NASA Supports UNM Using Wireless Sensors for SHM of Commercial Space Vehicles

November 20, 2017

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) selected Dr. Fernando Moreu as a recipient of funding for the project, “Structural Performance Monitoring Using Wireless Sensors for Cost-Efficient Management and Development of Commercial Space Vehicles”.

As a proof of concept, a group of undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctorate fellows from UNM have established a strong partnership and collaboration with the Albuquerque Rocket Society (ARS) for their research. On November 11, the UNM team launched one small wireless sensor collecting data of the launching. The students designed and built the wireless sensor, hardware and software, and programmed the algorithms with Dr. Ali Ozdagli (post-doctorate associate at SMILab, UNM). Using a three-axial accelerometer and post-processing the data, the students are developing a larger proposal for using the same concepts in commercial space vehicles. The rocket reached 3,700 feet altitude.  The students are using the data to explain the changes in tilt during the flight and other flight stages collected by the sensors. In conjunction with this research, a survey was conducted of industry and space agencies on using wireless smart technology to enhance reusability of vehicles and improve their design efficiency and safety. Students attended the latest International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS), also supported by another NASA student fellowship. Pat Hynes, the ISPCS director, met the students and encouraged them to pursue and explore careers in aerospace. At the event students spoke with NASA official William Gerstenmaier and astronaut Sandy Magnus; both provided novel perspectives on NASA’s space mission objectives. Additional support from Michael Holguin from ULA, Patrick Hull from NASA, and William Beggs, Jr. from Lockheed Martin (President of the ARS) have energized the  students to consider new ideas in smart sensing, data processing, graduate school, and a wide spectrum of new industry opportunities. The multidisciplinary team is now working on their first publication resulting from this work.

NASA supports wireless