MFCX data will be used to establish operational limits, determine long-duration space environmental exposure trends, and evaluate thermal shielding options for MFC-based active structures. The MFCX is the first flight validation for in situ electrical impedance-based structural health monitoring (SHM). NASA applications include active control of composite reflectors, large solar arrays and other spaceborne active structures, as well as self-health monitoring of future exploration vehicles and support structures—especially composite material structures. Support structures include habitats and Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPVs). Specific customers include the SMD Scanning Microwave Limb Sounder (SMLS) advanced reflector concept designs and OCT Lightweight Materials and Structures (LMS) long-duration space deployables. Maintaining the shape of these large, high-precision composite reflectors in space will be extremely difficult; active composite reflectors that adjust their shape in situ should be both cheaper and considerable lighter. OVS expands and maximizes ISS utilization by using the long duration ISS space environment to increase operational availability, reduce maintenance, minimize crew interaction, and reduce spaceflight technical risks and needs. OVS is therefore directly responsive to Topic H10.02, which calls for technologies that advance the state of the art of spacecraft systems by utilizing the ISS as a technology test bed.
Non-NASA commercial applications include Homeland Security structural analysis to mitigate threats (preparedness) and assess damage (response), smart structures, and SHM of civil infrastructures, land/marine structures, medical devices, and military structures. Civil infrastructure includes bridges, highway systems, buildings, power plants, underground structures, and wind energy turbines (alternative and renewable energy). Land/marine structures include automobiles, trains, submarines, ships, and offshore structures. Medical devices include implants and health monitoring devices. Military structures include helicopters, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and others. SHM is an emerging industry driven by an aging infrastructure, malicious humans, and the introduction of advanced materials and structures. SHM applications are also driven by a desire to lower costs by moving from schedule-based to condition-based maintenance. Government customers include NASA and the Departments of Defense, Transportation, and Energy. Non-government customers include energy companies, and other crucial-structure custodians. We are also working with The Boeing Company and Ball Aerospace.