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Resonator Gyro Achieves 18 Million Operating Hours in Space
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) Jun 24, 2011


Northrop Grumman's patented hemispherical resonator gyro (HRG) technology, which is used for various space and military applications, recently achieved a major milestone of 18 million hours of continuous operation with 100 percent mission success.

The HRG is lightweight, highly reliable and features a thin-walled quartz shell sensing element. Since February 1996, the HRG part of the Scalable Space Inertial Reference Unit (Scalable SIRU) and its predecessor, the Space Inertial Reference Unit (SIRU), has been a vital component of inertial navigation systems that enable the stabilization, tracking and attitude control of spacecraft and satellites by providing critical angular rate and linear acceleration data.

The Scalable SIRU was instrumental in achieving the scientific objectives of the highly successful MESSENGER and Deep Impact program missions.

"The HRG has proven dependability and high performance as seen by its impressive track record of operating hours and mission success," said Susan Sloan, vice president of space systems at Northrop Grumman's Navigation Systems Division.

"The HRG has been a vital part of numerous space programs and we expect that this long-lasting, innovative gyro will continue to be mission-critical for our customers."

HRG technology has been used in commercial, government and civil space missions for domestic and international customers and has been launched aboard more than 125 spacecraft. It was first used on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, which was the first of NASA's Discovery missions and the first mission ever to place a spacecraft into orbit around an asteroid.

The HRG technology is based on scientific observations made more than 100 years ago of a "ringing" wine glass that produces changing sounds depending upon its rate of rotation.

Northrop Grumman has experience in development and support of all current production gyro technologies. Besides its exclusive HRG, it produces spinning mass gyros, ring laser gyros, unique ZLG gyros, fiber-optic gyros and micro-electro-mechanical-system gyros.

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