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Proceedings Paper

Nonintrusive techniques of inspections during the pre-launch phase of space vehicle
Author(s): Rajkumar Thirumalainambi; Jorge E. Bardina; Osamu Miyazawa
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Paper Abstract

As missions expand to a sustainable presence in the Moon, and extend for durations longer than one year in lunar outpost, the effectiveness of the instrumentation and hardware has to be revolutionized if NASA is to meet high levels of mission safety, reliability, and overall success. This paper addresses a method of non-intrusive local inspection of surface and sub-surface conditions, interfaces, laminations and seals in both space vehicle and ground operations with an integrated suite of imaging sensors during pre-launch operations. It employs an advanced Raman spectrometer with additional spectrometers and lidar mounted on a flying robot to constantly monitor the space hardware as well as inner surface of the vehicle and ground operations hardware. A team of micro flying robots with necessary sensors and photometers is required to internally and externally monitor the entire space vehicle. The micro flying robots should reach an altitude with least amount of energy, where astronauts have difficulty in reaching and monitoring the materials and subsurface faults. The micro flying robots have an embedded fault detection system which acts as an advisory system and in many cases micro flying robots act as a `Supervisor' to fix the problems. The micro flying robot uses contra-rotating propellers powered by an ultra-thin, ultrasonic motor with currently the world's highest power weight ratio, and is balanced in mid-air by means of the world's first stabilizing mechanism using a linear actuator. The essence of micromechatronics has been brought together in high-density mounting technology to minimize the size and weight. Each robot can take suitable payloads of photometers, embedded chips for image analysis and micro pumps for sealing cracks or fixing other material problems. This paper also highlights advantages that this type of non-intrusive techniques offer over costly and monolithic traditional techniques.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 May 2005
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 5799, Modeling, Simulation, and Verification of Space-based Systems II, (19 May 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.605653
Show Author Affiliations
Rajkumar Thirumalainambi, SAIC/NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Jorge E. Bardina, NASA Ames Research Ctr. (United States)
Osamu Miyazawa, SEIKO Epson Corp. (Japan)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5799:
Modeling, Simulation, and Verification of Space-based Systems II
Pejmun Motaghedi, Editor(s)

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