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Fox-Tek’s Smart Material Tests at NASA Hailed as a Success

  • Friday, 22nd April 2005
  • Reading time: about 2 minutes

Fiber Optic Systems Technology Inc. have completed Phase 2 of testing the impact on the aramid based smart material from space debris which will enable astronauts to detect and repair spacecraft holes.

Phase 2 of its development programme of the “Foreign Object Impact Detection System for Spacecraft” involved impact tests on smart materials that were completed in early April at a NASA facility in Houston, Texas.

The smart material consists of an optical grid of fibres woven into a base fabric of Aramid fibres. This hybrid material is designed to provide a new technology (patent pending) to sense penetration of a spacecraft, such as the hull of a module on the International Space Station, by micrometeoroids and orbital debris.

Impact tests were conducted with a layer of Fox-Tek’s smart material and the fibre optic sensor grids were able to determine the location and size of the penetration holes in the plate.

In a real-life situation, this information would allow astronauts to effect a timely repair. Fox-Tek is now preparing a follow-on proposal to NASA to manufacture a MOD demonstration detection system that will provide impact data in real-time based on its optical sensing grids and Fox-Tek software.

Fox-Tek said that the technology will have applications to the oil and gas industry, which is Fox-Tek’s primary market.

Dr Rod Tennyson, a scientific advisor to Fox-Tek, supervised the test program in collaboration with Eric Christiansen of the NASA Johnson Space Center, with co-funding from CresTech, an Ontario Centre of Excellence.

Established in 2000, Fox-Tek has developed patented fibre optic sensing products that deliver solutions for companies to continually monitor their critical infrastructure and detect and prevent high-consequence or catastrophic occurrences.

Detailed information on the materials used in the project was not publicly available.

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