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Integrated Sensors for the Evaluation of Structural Integrity of Inflatable Habitats

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC17C0019
Agency Tracking Number: 150187
Amount: $750,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T12.03
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2016
Award Year: 2017
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2017-09-25
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-09-25
Small Business Information
158 Wheatland Drive
Pembroke, VA 24136-3645
United States
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Michelle Berg
 Principal Investigator
 (540) 626-6266
Business Contact
 Melissa Campbell
Title: CFO
Phone: (540) 626-6266
Research Institution
 Virginia Tech
 Melissa Campbell
302 Whittemore Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0000
United States

 (540) 626-6266
 Domestic Nonprofit Research Organization

Inflatable pressurized habitats are envisioned as a practical way to build shelters much larger than landing craft for astronauts and their scientific operations on Mars, the moon and elsewhere.  These habitats maintain their inflated shape via high-strength Vectran webbing. The piezoresistive extensometers developed through this STTR program can be directly integrated into or onto Vectran webbing and would allow the determination of webbing loads during the inflation process as well as creep during long-term deployment of the habitat. The objective of this NASA STTR program has been to develop such extensometer sensor materials based on NanoSonic's Metal Rubber materials technology that may be incorporated into the support webbing of stitched, pressurized space habitats during their production to monitor loading and creep.  The electrical resistance of these sensor materials changes linearly with strain, its modulus is low enough not to interfere with the deformation of the webbing during habitat stowage, inflation and operation, and its failure strain can be made higher than one hundred percent, so much larger than that of the webbing.  NanoSonic is working with faculty and students in the Electronic Textiles Laboratory at Virginia Tech, with input from inflatable habitat manufacturers at ILC Dover, to develop sewing / stitching / weaving methods for the integration of the sensor materials into layers of webbing during production.  During Phase I, sensor performance was tested in response to both uniaxial loading using a computer-controlled laboratory load frame, and using dead loads on representative webbing material that experiences long-term creep.  During Phase II, NanoSonic and Virginia Tech would work with ILC Dover to integrate and test webbing sensors on softgood habitat models and Bally Ribbon Mills to weave Metal Rubber extensometers directly into NASA habitat webbing materials.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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