Orifice-regulated hydrostatic gas bearings offer significant advantages for instrument applications. In particular, gimbal bearings for inertial guidance systems can be designed with negligible starting torque and high stiffness, and for operation at extreme temperatures. A literature search revealed the lack of convenient and accurate data for the design of hydrostatic gas bearings of various configurations, taking into consideration the effects of compressibility, which cannot be neglected at higher pressures. Based on Euler’s equation, expressions for the significant parameters, i.e., pressure profile, gas-flow rate, gap height, and load-carrying capacity of pad and step bearings, are developed. These parameters yield results which are in excellent agreement with experimental data. The test fixture incorporates pneumatic loading by means of a bellows-suspended piston which is prevented from cocking by an air bearing.

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