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Orbiter Rate Gyro Assemblies

The orbiter rate gyro assemblies are used by the flight control system during ascent, entry and aborts as feedbacks to final rate errors that are used to augment stability and for display on the commander's and pilot's attitude director indicator rate needles on panels F6 and F8. The four orbiter RGAs are referred to as RGAs 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The RGAs sense roll rates (about the X axis), pitch rates (about the Y axis) and yaw rates (about the Z axis). These rates are used by the flight control system to augment stability during both ascent and entry.

Each RGA contains three identical single-degree-of-freedom rate gyros so that each gyro senses rotation about one of the vehicle axes. Thus, each RGA contains one gyro-sensing roll rate (about the X axis), one gyro-sensing pitch rate (about the Y axis) and one gyro-sensing yaw rate (about the Z axis).

Each gyro has three axes. A motor forces the gyro to rotate about its spin axis. When the vehicle rotates about the gyro input axis, a torque results in a rotation about the output axis. An electrical voltage proportional to the angular deflection about the output axis-representing vehicle rate about the input axis-is generated and transmitted through the flight aft MDMs to the GPCs and RGA SOP. This same voltage is used within the RGA to generate a counteracting torque that prevents excessive gimbal movement about the output axis. The maximum output for roll rate gyros is plus or minus 40 degrees per second; for the pitch and yaw gyros, the maximum output is plus or minus 20 degrees per second.

The RGA SOP converts the voltage rate into units of degrees per second.

The RGA 1, 2, 3 and 4 on/off power switches are located on panels O14, O15, O16 and O15, respectively. The redundant power supplies for RGAs 1 and 4 prevent the loss of more than one rate gyro assembly if main bus power is lost.

The RGAs remain off on orbit except during flight control system checkout to conserve power.

The RGAs afford fail-operational redundancy during both ascent and entry. A quad mid value software scheme selects the best data for use in redundancy management and failure detection.

The RGA/accel red caution and warning light on panel F7 will be illuminated to inform the flight crew of an RGA failure.

The RGAs are located on the aft bulkhead below the floor of the payload bay. They are mounted on cold plates for cooling by the Freon-21 coolant loops. The RGAs require a five-minute warm-up time.

The RGA contractor is Northrop Corp., Electronics Division, Norwood, Mass.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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