Smart Gasket for Catapult Low Loss Launch Valve (LLLV)

Period of Performance: 07/30/2008 - 01/30/2009


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Luna Innovations, Inc.
301 1st St Suite 200
Roanoke, VA 24011
Principal Investigator


Availability and operation of all four steam catapults is vital to carrier flight operations. The valve directing steam to the catapult cylinders employs gaskets that fail unexpectedly due to degradation of filler preload. The gasket condition affects launch valve performance and eventually necessitates replacement of the launch valve assembly to restore performance. The gasket failure and lengthy valve repair process are detrimental to carrier readiness and increase maintenance costs. Currently, maintainers are unable to monitor gasket condition or predict gasket remaining useful life. To address this critical need, Luna Innovations will leverage its non-destructive evaluation and health monitoring expertise to develop a retrofit system for detecting gasket integrity using ultrasonic transducers mounted to the valve exterior. Key advantages of this approach are: 1) no valve design changes, 2) no gasket modifications, and 3) the external monitoring system can be directly wired to catapult systems. This approach supports rapid integration and is a more reliable alternative to wireless/energy scavenging approaches. The Phase I effort focuses on demonstrating ultrasonic measurement sensitivity to gasket load and damage state using representative housing and gasket geometries and materials. The hardware and software to support a gasket diagnostic and prognostic health monitoring system will be established.