Volume 10, Number 2 March/April 2002 Cover Story
Software Winners Selected for NASA Award
Since 1994, NASA has conducted an annual, agency-wide competition to recognize and reward excellence in software technology developed for NASA mission activities. Software development teams across the NASA programs and centers compete vigorously for the NASA Software of the Year Award, which is jointly sponsored by the NASA chief engineer and the NASA chief information officer in cooperation with NASAs Inventions and Contributions Board. The prestigious award, which includes a monetary Space Act Award as well as peer recognition and bragging rights, is based on criteria that emphasize the importance of quality software engineering, innovation, the extent of current and potential use, and significance to NASA mission programs, as well as to science, technology and industry. Qualified contenders for the award are nominated by the NASA centers and must demonstrate that the software is technologically mature or rated as commercial grade, that it is approved for external release or dedicated to use in a NASA mission activity, and that NASA holds intellectual property in or has access to the software technology. Also, as noted by Dr. Paul Curto, the senior technologist for the Inventions and Contributions Boards, user testimonials are a vital part of the evaluation process.
The 2001 Software of the Year Award winners are the Numerical Propulsion System Simulation (NPSS), which reduces aircraft engine analysis time, and the Generalized Fluid System Simulation Program (GFSSP), which improves the study of fluid dynamics in rocket engines and other systems.
The NPSS software allows multifidelity analysis in designing aircraft engines, offering key technological advantages that can improve the US aerospace industrys global competitiveness. The General Electric Aircraft Engines Co. estimates a 55-percent reduction in engine analysis time using this new software.
The development of NPSS was led by Cynthia Gutierrez Naiman of NASAs Glenn Research Center (GRC) of Cleveland, Ohio and included a team of 39 other engineers from Glenn; Arnold Engineering Development, Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee; Dynacs, Cleveland, Ohio; General Electric Aircraft Engines Co., Cincinnati, Ohio; GESS, Cleveland, Ohio; Honeywell, Tucson, Arizona; Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, Connecticut; Modern Technologies Corp., Middleburg Heights, Ohio; Rolls Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Indiana; RS Information Systems, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio; and The Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington.
The purpose of NPSS is to dramatically reduce the time, effort and expense necessary to design and test jet engines. It accomplishes this by generating sophisticated computer simulations of an aerospace object or system, thus permitting an engineer to test various design options without having to conduct costly and time-consuming real-life tests. The ultimate goal of NPSS is to create a numerical test cell that enables engineers to create complete engine simulations overnight on cost-effective computing platforms. Using NPSS, engine designers will be able to analyze different parts of the engine simultaneously, perform different types of analysis simultaneously (such as aerodynamic and structural analysis) and perform analyses faster, better and cheaper.
The GFSSP is a general purpose computer program for analyzing fluid-flow rate, pressure and t
emperature in rocket engines, turbo pumps, fuel tanks and various kinds of fluid-distribution systems. The software is capable of modeling liquid fuel phase changes including compressibility, mixture thermodynamics and the effects of external influences, such as gravity and centrifugal force. GFSSP version 3 introduced a subroutine module that makes it possible to develop specific applications and customize those applications as needed. As a result, GFSSP can be applied across a wide variety of industries and applications where flow predictions in complex flow circuits are necessary. The program includes subroutines for computing real fluid thermodynamic and thermophysical properties for 33 fluids, including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, helium, water and kerosene. Nineteen different resistance/source options are provided for modeling momentum sources or sinks in the branches. These options include pipe flow, flow through a restriction, noncircular duct, pipe flow with entrance and/or exit losses, thin sharp orifice, thick orifice, square edge reduction, square edge expansion, rotating annular duct, rotating radial duct, labyrinth seal, parallel plates, common fittings and valves, pump characteristics, pump power, valve with a given loss coefficient, Joule-Thompson device, control valve and a user-specified option.
The flexibility of the GFSSP code and the ability to customize specific applications eliminate the need to develop or employ multiple software tools that often are not fully interoperable. In addition, GFSSP is designed for ease of use, with a point-and-click graphical user interface and the ability to run on a desktop workstation with a PC, Macintosh or Silicon Graphics platform. GFSSPs features combine to yield substantial cost savings through reduced hardware testing and continuous improvement. Used on seven NASA/industry projects, GFSSP has demonstrated its value; one organizations use of GFSSP is estimated to save between $825,000 and $1.5 million.
Alok Kumar Majumdar, of NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, led the development team that included engineers from Marshall; ERC, Inc.; and Sverdrup Technology, also of Huntsville. A US patent has been filed, and potential licensees are in negotiation with NASA for its commercial use. For more information, go to http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/software/gfssp.html
Receiving honorable mention were the following:
NASA TechTracS is a distributed network of 4-D relational databases and Web servers located at each NASA center, NASA Headquarters and the National Technology Transfer Center. An integrated agency-wide server is located at NASAs Langley Research Center, as well on as a public Web site called the NASA Tech Finder (http://technology.nasa.gov/), a test/training server and a technical support server. Q
More information about the current and past Software of the Year Award winners can be found at http://icb.nasa.gov/nasaswy.html