The Materials Science Division (MSD) at Kennedy Space Center is developing a computer system to maintain a material-science data base coupled with a user-friendly interface on the World Wide Web. The system is designed to eliminate the need for time-consuming and expensive distribution of, and searches among, paper documents.

The system comprises two main parts: the MS Report Log and the MSD Report Server. The MS Report Log facilitates tracking the statuses of tasks and maintaining documentation pertinent to those tasks in various subdivisions of material science, including failure analysis, chemical analysis, metallurgical evaluation, and physical testing. The MS Report Log serves as a unified medium for reporting, replacing a disjointed combination of paper and computer logging and reporting by mail and telephone. The MS Report Log is accessible via any computer workstation running commercially available web-browser software.

The MS Report Log automatically sends, by electronic mail, notices of changes in a task to all investigators, their supervisors, and others who are involved in or have expressed interest in the task. A person using the MS Report Log can view all data related to a task, can (if authorized) request a new task, and can download reports of tasks electronically. Investigators and their supervisors can update selected task fields in the data base, generate reports, and add related documents.

The MSD Report Server, still undergoing development, is intended to serve as an electronic archive of all MSD reports, which have been accumulating since the early 1960's. The MSD Report Server would provide quick and easy access to documents, many of which are, variously, inaccessible or accessible only through consultation with experts: These documents — about 45,000 in all — are in paper form, stored in boxes and filing cabinets in various laboratories, each of which uses its own report-numbering system. In addition, laboratories have been divided, merged, and renamed over the years, and experts who retain the institutional memory of the report files have retired, so that it is becoming increasingly difficult to locate old reports on specific parts or materials that could be relevant to current investigations.

The paper documents would be scanned and digitized to generate the data for the MSD Report Server. Reports would be indexed and would be accessible via keyword searches entered via the MSD Report Search web page. Each report would be made available electronically, in both full text and portable document format (PDF). The PDF versions of reports would include images. PDF-viewer software can be downloaded via the MSD Report Search web page. Optionally, each report could be reprinted in its original format. At present, only Kennedy Space Center personnel have access to the MSD Report Server; eventually, wider access will be allowed.

This work was done by Scott Murray, Tim Bolo, Debra Folmar, Bill Dearing, and Angela Balles of Kennedy Space Center and William I. Spiker II and Nancy Tuttle, formerly of I-NET, Inc.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to the Technology Programs and Commercialization Office, Kennedy Space Center, (407) 867-6373. Refer to KSC-11948/60.