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Proceedings Paper

Continuous health monitoring of Graphite Epoxy Motorcases (GEM)
Author(s): Richard David Finlayson; David T. Schaafsma; H. Warren Shen; Mark F. Carlos; Ronnie K. Miller; Brent Shepherd
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Paper Abstract

Following the explosion of Delta 241 (IIR-1) on January 17th, 1997, the failure investigation board concluded that the Graphite Epoxy Motorcases (GEM's) should be inspected for damage just prior to launch. Subsequent investigations and feedback from industry led to an Aerospace Corporation proposal to instrument the entire fleet of GEM's with a continuous health monitoring system. The period of monitoring would extend from the initial acceptance testing through final erection on the launch pad. As this proposal demonstrates, (along with the increasing use of advanced composite materials in aircraft, automobiles, military hardware, and aerospace components such as rocket motorcases) a sizable need for composite health assessment measures exist. Particularly where continuous monitoring is required for the detection of damage from impacts and other sources of high mechanical and thermal stresses. Even low-momentum impacts can lead to barely visible impact damage (BVID), corresponding to a significant weakening of the composite. This damage, undetectable by visual inspection, can in turn lead to sudden and catastrophic failure when the material is subjected to a normal operating load. There is perhaps no system with as much potential for truly catastrophic failure as a rocket motor. We will present an update on our ongoing efforts with the United States Air Force Delta II Program Office, and The Aerospace Corporation. This will cover the development of a local, portable, surface-mounted, fiberoptic sensor based impact damage monitor designed to operate on a Delta II GEM during transport, storage, and handling. This system is designed to continuously monitor the GEMs, to communicate wirelessly with base stations and maintenance personnel, to operate autonomously for extended periods, and to fit unobtrusively on the GEM itself.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 July 2001
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4335, Advanced Nondestructive Evaluation for Structural and Biological Health Monitoring, (24 July 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.434169
Show Author Affiliations
Richard David Finlayson, Physical Acoustics Corp. (United States)
David T. Schaafsma, IPITEK Photonic Technology (United States)
H. Warren Shen, Physical Acoustics Corp. (United States)
Mark F. Carlos, Physical Acoustics Corp. (United States)
Ronnie K. Miller, Physical Acoustics Corp. (United States)
Brent Shepherd, U.S. Air Force/Los Angeles (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4335:
Advanced Nondestructive Evaluation for Structural and Biological Health Monitoring
Tribikram Kundu, Editor(s)

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