Structural Abort Trigger for Ares Composites

Period of Performance: 01/01/2010 - 12/31/2010


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Metis Design Corp.
205 Portland St Array
Boston, MA 02114
Principal Investigator


Structural health monitoring (SHM) methods have been limited for wide-area applications due to the implied infrastructure, including sensors, power/communication cables, and acquisition/computation units. Particularly for mass-sensitive space applications such as Ares V, every gram can matter when scaling-up to cover 10 meter diameter composite sections. The payoff of a reliable real-time SHM system would be an abort trigger, which could be implemented to save precious cargo if structural anomalies are detected. This system would be installed upon composite component fabrication to track health during shipping/integration, and continue to monitor during launch. Metis Design Corporation (MDC) has demonstrated point-of-measurement datalogging and cable-free sensor-busing during prior SBIR work, which minimizes the mass of sensor hardware and infrastructure. During the proposed research, MDC will further exploit this SHM architecture to fully satisfy Ares V mission specifications. This SBIR would focuses on optimizing sensor geometry and placement as well as customizing testing and algorithm parameters to obtain the desired monitoring coverage, accuracy and reliability with minimal mass. A large portion of the research will focus on constructing and inspecting models for the various structural configurations being considered by NASA. The SBIR would conclude with a "blind" detection demonstration on a representative test article.