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Proceedings Paper

Potentials and problems in space applications of smart structures technology
Author(s): D. C.G. Eaton; D. P. Bashford
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Paper Abstract

The well known addage 'don't run before you can walk emerging materials. It typically takes ten years before a material is sufficiently well characterized for commercial aerospace application. Much has to be learnt not only about the material properties and their susceptibility to the effects of their working environment but also about the manufacturing process and the most effective configuration related application. No project will accept a product which has no proven reliability and attractive cost effectiveness in its application. The writers firmly believe that smart structures and their related technologies must follow a similar development pattern. Indeed, faced with a range of interdisciplinary problems it seems likely that 'partially smart' techniques may well be the first applications. These will place emphasis on the more readily realizable features for any structural application. Prior use may well have been achieved in other engineering sectors. Because ground based applications are more readily accessible to check and maintain, these are generally the front runners of smart technology usage. Nevertheless, there is a strong potential for the use of smart techniques in space applications if their capabilities can be advantageously introduced when compared with traditional solutions. This paper endeavors to give a critical appraisal of the possibilities and the accompanying problems. A sample overview of related developing space technology is included. The reader is also referred to chapters 90 to 94 in ESA's Structural Materials Handbook (ESA PSS 03 203, issue 1.). It is envisaged that future space applications may include the realization and maintenance of large deployable reflector profiles, the dimensional stability of optical payloads, active noise and vibration control and in orbit health monitoring and control for largely unmanned spacecraft. The possibility of monitoring the health of items such as large cryogenic fuel tanks is a typical longer term of objective.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 September 1994
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 2361, Second European Conference on Smart Structures and Materials, (13 September 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.184841
Show Author Affiliations
D. C.G. Eaton, ESA/ESTEC (Netherlands)
D. P. Bashford, ERA Technology Ltd. (Netherlands)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2361:
Second European Conference on Smart Structures and Materials
Alaster McDonach; Peter T. Gardiner; Ron S. McEwen; Brian Culshaw, Editor(s)

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