The design and construction of a high vacuum bearing test apparatus.
Walker, Melvin E.
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The growing interest in the exploration of the universe makes mandatory new machines which must operate under the extreme temperatures and the high vacuum (10 to 10 mm Hg.) of outer space. A critical problem is that of developing bearings which will operate for long, unattended periods of time. Conventional bearings cannot be used because the liquid lubricants are quickly evaporated by the low pressure, and the solid lubricants wear or chip away, exposing the clean metal. If two perfectly clean surfaces come in contact, they weld together and then leave a rough surface when they are torn apart. This does not happen in our atmosphere because the metal surface quickly adsorbs films of oxygen and water vapor which act as lubricants. There are many proposed designs for bearings which can operate under this high vacuum, but there is very little emperical data on the performance and useful life of these bearings. The purpose of this thesis is to design and construct an apparatus which will measure the performance of instrument bearings operating in a high vacuum.
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