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Monthly Meeting Notification

SAMPE Orange County Meeting Notice

Wed., April 16th, 2014 at 6 p.m.

Nondestructive Evaluation of Composite Structures
as a Tool for Ensuring Mission Success
Presented by
J. P. Nokes
Principal Director of the Space Materials Laboratory
in the Physical Sciences Laboratories at The Aerospace Corporation


Launch vehicle structures utilize multiple types of composite structures to meet their demanding performance requirements. These structures, designed to operate under well defined launch loads, are susceptible to damage during various stages of pre-mission life (transport, storage, and integration). The appropriate use of NonDestructive Evaluation (NDE) techniques in validating structural integrity over the course of a components life can play a vital role in assuring mission success. Unlike scheduled, in-process NDE operations that are performed under optimum conditions, inspections to assess unplanned events often face constraints related to contamination critical surfaces, obstructed access to hardware, schedule constraints, or launch site environments. Successful incident-driven inspection must address these issues in addition to assuring appropriate detection sensitivity to the presumed mode of damage. Often this entails the fabrication of a specific defect standard representative of the potential damage caused by an overload or impact incident. This paper will discuss the development and application of NDE field inspections to aid in the disposition of suspect composite structures.


Dr. James P. Nokes is currently the Principal Director of the Space Materials Laboratory in the Physical Sciences Laboratories at The Aerospace Corporation. In this position Dr. Nokes oversees a talented staff that is committed to addressing the materials technology needs of National Security Space programs. This includes significant efforts in the fields of propulsion, advanced composites, surface science, and small satellites.

With over 20 years of experience in the development and application of nondestructive evaluation (NDE) techniques, Dr. Nokes has focused on addressing the inspection issues unique to spacecraft and launch vehicles. He holds five patents and has authored numerous papers on different aspects of NDE and advanced composite fabrication. In 2002 he was awarded the Presidents Distinguished Achievement Award by the Aerospace Corporation for his work in developing an inspection technique to address solar cell bonding issues. His current interests involve the use of atmospheric plasma surface treatments to enhance composite bond performance.

Dr. Nokes holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Michigan State University, where he also earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering.


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