NASA -National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Finishes Critical Components of New ISS Exercise Device

Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (Click image to see a model demonstration of ARED) (BOTH - Credit: NASA Johnson).
Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (Click image to see a model demonstration of ARED)

NASA’s Glenn Research Center designed and built ground support equipment and internal components for the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED). Once onboard the International Space Station (ISS), crew members will use ARED as part of their exercise routine, which involves about 2.5 hours of physical exercise per day.

Since the beginning of 2006, Glenn’s Space Operations Project Office, Engineering Directorate, and System Safety, Quality and Reliability Division have been providing ISS ARED systems design and manufacturing support to Johnson Space Center. In 2006, Glenn’s Engineering Directorate Team designed and manufactured the ultra-lightweight Processing and Lifting Fixture (PLF) for the ARED system. The effort was managed by the Space Operations Project Office and supported by the System Safety, Quality and Reliability Division. Johnson Space Center is using the PLF in the assembly and ground operations of ARED as well as to maneuver the device in the Orbiter Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

Processing/Lifting Fixture for the ARED (Credit: NASA Glenn).

Glenn also produced the ARED piston assemblies. These components provide resistance and are the heart of the exercise device. The primary challenge was to produce a component that is relatively large (18” x 9”), yet still lightweight enough to meet the strict weight requirements for spaceflight.

Processing/Lifting Fixture integrated with the ARED (Credit: NASA Johnson).
Processing/Lifting Fixture integrated with the ARED.

To produce the lightweight piston assemblies, Glenn utilized its unique manufacturing capabilities that include a microfinishing machine. This machine puts a mirror finish on the piston cylinder hardware to provide a good seal while reducing friction between the cylinder and piston, which extends the life of the hardware.

Micromachining uses precise mechanical machine tool technology to produce super smooth finishes for lenses, mirrors, reflectors and mini concentrators. The ultra smooth finish enables an uninterrupted flow of electrons.

Glenn shipped the ARED hardware to Johnson in fall 2006. Johnson is currently using the PLF to hold the ARED while processing of the device is performed. These activities include the build-up, fabrication, testing, transportation and placing of ARED in the shuttle at Kennedy. The ARED is scheduled to launch in June 2009 on the STS-128 mission.

By supporting mission critical components of the ARED project, Glenn demonstrated their valuable skills in flight hardware manufacturing. Glenn’s micromachining work may have extended application to materials used in implantable micro medical devices or for creating electronic prototype lifters that are used to suspend different forms of matter.

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