An autonomous and automated spacecompliant diagnostic system concept was developed for condition-based maintenance (CBM) of rocket motors for space exploration vehicles. The system will provide real-time information on the integrity of critical structures on launch vehicles, improve their performance, and greatly increase crew safety while decreasing inspection costs. Using Acellent’s SMART layer technology as a basis, detailed procedures and calibration techniques for implementation of the diagnostic system were developed. The concept of the interface focusing on the link from the diagnostic system to the Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM) system using Open System Architecture was also developed.

Structural health monitoring (SHM) offers the promise of a paradigm shift from schedule-driven maintenance to CBM of assets. Built-in sensor networks on the structure can provide crucial information regarding the condition, damage state, and/or service environment of the structure. Diagnostic information from sensor data can be used for prognosis of the health of the structure and facilitate informed decision processes with respect to inspection and repair, e.g., repair vs. no repair. Asset management can be performed based on the actual health and performance of the structure.

The diagnostic system is a distributed system, which consists of a sensor network, local data loggers, and host central processor. Each data logger will communicate with the central processor, which is responsible for synchronizing and managing distributed data loggers. The system detects external impact to the structure. The system can estimate impact location, estimate impact force at the impacted location, and estimate structure damage at the impacted location.

This work was done by Xinlin Qing, Shawn Beard, and Chang Zhang of Acellent Technologies for Marshall Space Flight Center. For more information, contact Sammy Nabors, MSFC Commercialization Assistance Lead, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. MFS-32795-1.