OPEN MIND Technologies USA, Inc.
Needham, MA

OPEN MIND Technologies, a worldwide developer of CAD/CAM software solutions, announced that Ramco Machine, LLC (Rowley, MA) is helping to impact the future of space exploration by using hyperMILL ® CAM software and 5-axis machining to make parts for an advanced NASA satellite mission. The mission, named Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is credited with discovering its first circumbinary planet - a world orbiting two stars.

In 2017, Ramco was contracted by MIT Lincoln Laboratory (Lincoln, MA) to fabricate the critical camera mount brackets for an important NASA TESS satellite mission. NASA's TESS mission is designed to explore and survey nearby bright stars to analyze planets, both smaller and larger than earth, as the planets circle their host stars and the earth orbits the sun.

In 2018, a solar powered in-space satellite equipped with four ultrasensitive cameras was launched aboard a two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its way beyond earth's solar system to outer space. The four-camera system developed at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory monitors the brightness of more than 200,000 stars and searches for minute drops in brightness as the planets transit in front of each star.

Making the mounting brackets required machining Invar, a nickel-iron alloy with a low thermal expansion coefficient, allowing it to meet the rigors of launch and enabling it to compensate for the extreme temperature swings of outer space. The mounting bracket has exceedingly tight tolerances. The central rib's thickness is .050” +/- .001”, perpendicularity between surfaces is held to .001” and the bracket's two opposing surfaces must be in-line with each other to within .001”.

To cut Invar and achieve the required tolerances, Ramco used a hyperMILL® generated 5-axis profile finish tool path. By doing this, an accurate finish across each part was achieved, keeping them within these very tight tolerances.

Headquartered in Germany, OPEN MIND is a leading developer of powerful CAD/CAM solutions for machine and controller-independent programming. The company develops optimized CAD/CAM solutions that include many features unavailable elsewhere, to deliver significantly higher performance in both programming and machining. Strategies such as 2.5D, 3D, as well as 5-axis milling, mill/turning, and machining operations such as HSC and HPC, are designed into the hyperMILL® CAM system, providing maximum user benefit and compatibility with all current CAD solutions and programming automation.

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Astronomers predict that TESS will discover dozens of Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of Earth. In addition to Earth-sized planets, TESS is expected to find some 20,000 exoplanets in its two-year prime mission. TESS will find upwards of 17,000 planets larger than Neptune.

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Aerospace & Defense Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2020 issue of Aerospace & Defense Technology Magazine.

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