In support of investigations of mishaps like the crash of the space shuttle Columbia, a process based on digital reconstruction from recovered components has been developed. The process is expected to reduce the need for physical reconstruction from recovered parts, reduce the time and cost of determining the cause of a mishap, and provide information useful in redesigning to prevent future mishaps.

The process involves utilization of pre-existing techniques, hardware, and software to capture sizes and shapes of recovered parts in sets of digital data. The data are manipulated to enable rendering of captured geometric information by use of computer-aided design (CAD) and viewing software. The digitization of a part and study of its spatial relationship with other parts is taken to one of three levels of successively greater detail, depending on its importance to the investigation. The process includes a trajectory-analysis subprocess in which information from the digital reconstruction is combined with locations of recovered parts to reduce the area that must be searched to find other specified parts that have not yet been recovered. The digital product of the process is compatible with pre-existing CAD and solid-model-rendering software.

This work was done by William D. Macy and Robert B. Luecking of The Boeing Co. for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

Title to this invention has been waived under the provisions of the National Aeronautics and Space Act {42 U.S.C. 2457(f)}, to The Boeing Co. Inquiries concerning licenses for its commercial development should be addressed to:

Terrance Mason,
Boeing Patent Licensing Professional
Mail Code 1650-7002
Boeing Management Co.
15460 Laguna Canyon Road
Irvine CA 92618
Phone No. (949) 790-1331
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Reference: Boeing ID 03-0354

Refer to MSC-23783-1, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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