The operation of equipment in space has required a new evaluation of lubricants. To evaluate these lubricants, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company has conducted a test program of operating lubricated, instrument-size ball bearings in pressures of 10−7 to 10−9 torr.
Four classes of lubricants have been tested in the vacuum pressure range mentioned above. Bearings using the most successful of the oil and grease lubricants tested have operated continuously for over 1 yr. The most promising tests using special retainer materials have been 3 to 6 months in duration. Tests using dry-film lubricants have shown poor reproducibility and short life-times of only about 3 months.
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