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Proceedings Paper

Design of a built-in health monitoring system for bolted thermal protection panels
Author(s): Jinkyu Yang; Fu-Kuo Chang; Mark M. Derriso
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Paper Abstract

Space vehicles require high performance thermal protection systems (TPS) that provide high temperature insulation capability with lower weight, high strength, and reliable integration with the existing system. Carbon-carbon panels mounted with bracket joints are potential future thermal protection systems with light weight, low creep, and high stiffness at high temperatures. However, the thermal protection system experiences a very harsh high-temperature and aerodynamic environment in addition to foreign object impacts. Damage or failure of panels without being detected can lead to catastrophe. Therefore, knowledge of the integrity of the thermal protection system before each launch and reentry is essential to the success of the mission. The objective of the study is to develop a built-in diagnostic system to assess the integrity of TPS panels as well as to lower inspection and maintenance time and costs. An integrated structural health monitoring system is being developed to monitor the TPS panels. The technology includes investigation of the loosening of bolts which connects TPS panels to the supporting structure, and potentially, identifying the location of damage on the panel caused by external impacts from micrometeorites and other objects. The first generation prototype was manufactured and tested in an acoustic chamber which simulated a re-entry environment to investigate the feasibility of the health monitoring system focusing on its survivability and sensitivity. The preliminary results were very promising. Based on the test results, the second generation design was proposed to improve the performance of the first generation design. To put a reliable and accurate decision on the diagnostics of the TPS panels, an advanced algorithm was developed with the aid of a wavelet transform technique.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 August 2003
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5046, Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring of Aerospace Materials and Composites II, (1 August 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.508340
Show Author Affiliations
Jinkyu Yang, Stanford Univ. (United States)
Fu-Kuo Chang, Stanford Univ. (United States)
Mark M. Derriso, Air Force Research Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5046:
Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring of Aerospace Materials and Composites II
Andrew L. Gyekenyesi; Peter J. Shull, Editor(s)

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