NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- A4.01-8696 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023303 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Space Transportation Architecture Definition
PROPOSAL TITLE: MicroSAFE (Stress Analysis and Forecasted Endurance)

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Invocon, Inc.
19221 I-45 South, Suite 530
Conroe , TX   77385 - 8703
(281 ) 292 - 9903

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Joe Hermann
19221 I-45 South, Suite 530
Conroe , TX   77385 - 8703
(281 ) 292 - 9903

The NASA SLI is to determine design approaches to a new space launch vehicle that can reduce the costs and minimize risks. Significant amounts of the cost associated with operation of the current Shuttle involves manual inspections. The challenge is to determine a means of more cost effective inspections. Proposed herein is a means for reducing the need for manual inspections while improving the quality of ?flight readiness status? information. The proposed approach also insures that this reduction in operations costs could be achieved for a minimum cost. A miniature device is proposed that can measure and compile the exact stress life in mechanical parts on a constant basis and report this information to a gathering facility via wireless radio communications. The device would be so small that one or more of them could be included on every critical life limited part designed for a particular application. The inclusion of the device on the critical part would make the part a ?smart part? that would continually measure its own health relative to stress life and would report that information when commanded. Thus maintenance personnel would only need to watch for data processing alarms to determine the replacement time.

Commercial air service organizations all deal with life limited parts. Parts must be replaced within a specific number of operational hours. The number of hours are estimates by the builder and the controlling government safety authority. A technique that could total the exact number of stress cycles and their magnitude could allow life limited parts to be changed out only when service life has been reached. Example: PA 38 Piper aircraft. The wings have a service life of 11,000 hours. This assumes that the plane was used to the limits of the Utility Category (more stressful than Normal Category). These aircraft are being scrapped every year due to this limitation in spite of the fact that many have not even come close to their service life. Commercial operations can save money precise measurements and lives could be saved as exemplified by the recent Slurry Tanker crashes if total service life was easily available.

This device is applicable to both retrofit and new system NASA applications. Specifically, IVC has raw data collection hardware flying on the Shuttle for purposes of measuring the exact strain loads imparted on the engine steering arms. IVC has pushed size and cost reduction of this device to the limits of conventional components. In this form, the device has a large potential market and can contribute to the optimization of replacement schedules for many ?life limited? parts. This effort has resulted in a device that measures 2.5 cm by 2.5 cm by 1.5 cm. The proposed device (measuring 5 mm by 5 mm by 2 mm ) would bond to the part or structure. Properly packaged, the device could be imbedded into composite construction to detect changes in the statistical stress life that would signal structural failure.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10