CVS is the first extensive spaceflight validation for piezocomposite actuator materials. CVS will establish operational limits, determine long-duration space environmental exposure trends, and evaluate thermal compensation options for the piezocomposite materials needed to control large-scale precision space structures. Piezocomposite material applications include active control of composite reflectors, large sunshields, external occulters, large solar arrays for solar electric propulsion and other active structures. Examples include structures like the OCT Lightweight Materials and Structures long-duration deployables. Maintaining the shape of large, high-precision reflectors will be quite difficult; active reflectors that adjust their shape in situ will be cheaper and lighter. Other structures of interest include lightweight deployable hatches for manned inflatable structures. Additionally, an active, mission-capable SHM system has applications like crew safety, ISS utilization, deep-space missions, vehicle mass reduction, and Mars exploration. CVS is directly responsive to Topic S2.02, which calls for technologies that enable deploying large aperture telescopes at low cost.
Commercial space companies need SHM to reduce time to launch and operation costs and improve safety. These needs are particularly important for re-useable vehicles, where information on structural integrity during all stages of flight is important for flight recertification, validation of vehicle operation models, and prediction of remaining service life. Active control is needed for jitter suppression and to compensate for thermal and mechanical disturbances. Other applications include Homeland Security structural analysis to mitigate threats (preparedness) and assess damage (response), smart structures, and SHM of civil infrastructures, land/marine structures, 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. Military structures include helicopters, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles 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. Non-NASA government customers include the Departments of Defense, Transportation, and Energy. We are working with The Boeing Company and Ball Aerospace to apply CVS to non-NASA applications.