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SBIR/STTR

CNT Applique for SHM of Space Structures, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Space structures are unique in that once they are deployed, there is little to no opportunity for manual inspection to assess their integrity. Even on the space station, where there is a continuous human presence, traditional non-destructive evaluation (NDE) is impractical due to complexity of necessitating a space-walk, not to mention the training required to obtain meaningful results. These structures are subject to damage caused by the extreme launch environment, micrometeorite and orbital debris (MMOD) impact, thermal cycling and even atomic-level corrosion. Nevertheless, it is desirable for space structures to be designed with as small safety margins as possible due to the significant cost of placing objects into space. Therefore, NASA seeks reliable structural health monitoring (SHM) techniques to be able to remotely inspect space structures. Such a system could be used as an early warning system for manned space missions, to indicate when a critical repair may need to be conducted, or an emergency abort event is necessitated. MDC proposes the use of a conformal CNT applique for providing SHM capabilities to space structures while only adding 10 GSM mass and 100 micron thickness. Four separate detection methods will be demonstrated using the multi-physics properties of this unique material. More »

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