Inflatable Habitat Structural Health Monitoring via Embedded Fiber Optic Sensors


Inflatable structures present a novel solution to high volume-to-weight habitation for future space missions. Structural health monitoring (SHM) of flexible softgoods materials cannot be achieved with many traditional techniques. Fiber optic sensors that measure strain every 0.65 mm along the fiber have been embedded in Vectran webbing to measure strain profiles, gradients, and anomalies within these flexible load-bearing structures. The sensors directly address the two leading failure modes of inflatables: creep and micro meteoroid impact. Fiber optic data were collected during creep tests of an individual strap and during a 1.5-month creep test of a 1/3-scale inflatable at NASA Johnson Space Center culminating in a burst. Distributed strain datasets from the embedded fiber optics were compared with photogrammetry/digital image correlation (DIC) results. System integration studies detailing how the sensing system could be included in future space deployments of inflatable habitats for increased reliability is also presented.


Osgar John Ohanian III, Luna Innovations Incorporated, US
Susan M. Pope, Luna Innovations Incorporated, US
Bret Heaslet, Sierra Space Corporation, US
Grant Woods, Sierra Space Corporation, US
Matthew Morgan, ILC Dover, US
James Kirwan, ILC Dover, US
Joseph Welch, ILC Dover, US
Thomas Carno Jones, NASA Langley Research Center, US
Douglas A. Litteken, NASA Johnson Space Center, US
ICES506: Human Exploration Beyond Low Earth Orbit: Missions and Technologies
The 51st International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Saint Paul, Minnesota, US, on 10 July 2022 through 14 July 2022.


inflatable habitat, structural health monitoring, fiber optic sensor, creep, micro meteoroid impact, photogrammetry