Capabilities and Limitations of Nondestructive Evaluation Methods for Inspecting Components Beneath Thermal Protection Systems

The Aerospace Corporation was tasked by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to provide technical support to the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST), to develop guidelines for inspecting components of reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) protected by thermal protection systems (TPS). The specific objective was to review nondestructive evaluation (NDE) methods used to inspect such aerospace structures covered by TPS. Basic issues concerning the inspection of components protected by TPS are identified, and the inherent strengths and limitations of the various NDE techniques as they relate to the projected needs of future RLV systems are described. This task also served to aid the identification and continuing development of advanced NDE techniques that offer strong potential for future application to RLV inspection. An improved understanding of the capabilities of current and developmental NDE approaches is necessary to establish future inspection guidelines unique to RLV systems. This report describes (1) generic issues associated with NDE inspection beneath TPS, (2) the current state-of-the-art of relevant NDE methods, and (3) new NDE techniques applicable to RLV inspection.

  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Aerospace Corporation

    El Segundo, CA  United States 

    Department of Transportation

    Research and Special Programs Administration
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC    20590

    Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

    Cambridge, MA  United States  02142

    Federal Aviation Administration

    Office of the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Authors:
    • Esquivel, O
    • Seibold, R W
  • Publication Date: 2004-7-30


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Bibliography; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 51p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01638320
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT-VNTSC-FAA-04-10, ATR-2004(5081)-1
  • Contract Numbers: DTRS57-99-D-00062, Task 5.0
  • Created Date: Jun 21 2017 5:17PM