On-Orbit Health Monitoring and Repair Assessment of Thermal Protection Systems

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNL05AB08P
Agency Tracking Number: 040041
Amount: $70,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2005
Solicitation Year: 2004
Solicitation Topic Code: X4.03
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
2525 Arapahoe Avenue / Bldg. E4 #262, Boulder, CO, 80302-6746
DUNS: 112811364
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Robert Owen
 Principal Investigator
 (303) 530-1248
Business Contact
 Robert Owen
Title: Principal scientist
Phone: (303) 530-1248
Email: rowen@extremediagnostics.com
Research Institution
This SBIR project delivers On-orbit health MoNItoring and repair assessment of THERMal protection systems (OMNI_THERM). OMNI_THERM features impedance-based structural health monitoring (SHM) and uses miniaturized autonomous sensor/actuators to diagnose damage and verify repair efficacy. Implications of the innovation Thermal protection systems are crucial for crew safety. New techniques of on-orbit monitoring and assessment of thermal protection structures are needed for space exploration. An autonomous impedance-based SHM system is one of the few viable solutions; however, this technique has not been applied to thermal protection systems. Technical objectives OMNI_THERM deploys autonomous, wireless, self-powered sensor/actuators that harvest energy from vibration and thermal gradients. Each sensor/actuator is a complete SHM system and reports independently; this computationally distributed framework minimizes single points-of-failure. We have built a prototype, performed SHM on launch support structures, and demonstrated repair assessment. Research description Phase I demonstrates OMNI_THERM SHM on reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) and other model structures. Phase II includes miniaturization and expands OMNI_THERM capabilities to additional thermal materials, hybrid structures, and advanced composites. Anticipated results Phase I establishes feasibility by detecting cracks, gouges, and stress-induced defects in RCC and other model structures and verifying repairs. Phase II delivers an OMNI_THERM system tailored to on-orbit SHM and repair assessment.

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

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