Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) ISS Distributed Impact Detection System (DIDS)

Expandable modules for use in space and on the Moon or Mars offer a great opportunity for volume and mass savings in future space exploration missions. This type of module can be compressed into a relatively small shape on the ground, allowing them to fit into space vehicles with a smaller cargo/fairing size than a traditional solid, metallic structure-based module would allow. In April 2016, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was berthed to the International Space Station (ISS). BEAM is the first human-rated expandable habitat/module to be deployed and crewed in space. BEAM was developed as a NASA managed ISS payload project in partnership with Bigelow Aerospace. BEAM has been installed on ISS for a total of 8 years although initially was intended to only stay attached to ISS for an operational period of 2 years to help advance the technology readiness for future expandable modules. BEAM has been instrumented with a suite of space flight certified sensors systems which will help characterize the module’s performance for thermal, radiation shielding and impact monitoring against potential Micro Meteoroid/Orbital Debris (MM/OD) providing fundamental information on the BEAM environment for potential health monitoring requirements and capabilities.

This presentation will focus on the Distributed Impact Detection System (DIDS) which is actively being utilized 24/7 for MM/OD impact detection. This will provide an overview of how the sensors/instrumentation systems were developed, tested, installed and an overview of the current sensor system operations and how its data is being reviewed on the ground by the ISS loads and dynamics team.

Presenter Bio:
Nathan Wells currently serves as the Instrumentation Technical Discipline Lead for the Avionic Systems Division at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas where he supports the International Space Station (ISS) Program for various Structural Health Monitoring systems as well supporting the Gateway Program as a Project Manager for development/testing work of a Time Triggered Ethernet Network for Northrop Grumman in their Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module design. In his capacity he also serves as a JSC representative for the NESC Sensor and Instruments Technical Discipline Team and is deputy lead for the NESC In-Situ and Proximity Community of Practice. Nathan earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) and completed studies for a Master of Science degree in Technical Management in a Technical Position. His past work involved working on various International Space Station (ISS) countermeasures/exercise device projects serving as a project engineer and project manager as well as serving as the Project Manager for a Shuttle Program Return to Flight project called the “Wing Leading Edge Impact Detection System” (WLEIDS) between 2007-2011 and working as the lead Development Flight Instrumentation (DFI) engineer for the Morpheus project between 2010 and 2013. Nathan has received numerous awards and honors including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2016 and Silver Snoopy Award in 2021.

Aaron Trott is a Program Director who has been employed with Invocon, Inc. for over twenty-seven years. His present roles include product manager for launch vehicle control systems and project manager for aerospace data acquisition systems. Other activities include business development, research & development, and systems engineering. Specific focus areas are instrumentation system developments for applications in the aerospace industry. Aaron earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Electrical Engineering from Mississippi State University, during which time he participated in the cooperative education program at NASA Langley Research Center. During his graduate studies, he also worked at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Computational Field Simulation.

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