The M2M Gekko® for Spacecraft Inspection – It’s Not Rocket Science

Priscilla Johnson

Content Marketing Lead

Rocket inspection can be added to the M2M Gekko’s resume. Okay, today’s example may be a model but that doesn’t mean the advanced Phased Array Ultrasonic Testing (PAUT) flaw detector isn’t adept in assessing spaceships. With aerospace clients like SpaceX, Eddyfi Technologies delivers proven non-destructive testing (NDT) solutions for launch vehicle applications.

When it comes to testing the essential components that comprise a space bound vehicle, volumetric NDT in the form of Ultrasonic Testing (UT) has been widely accepted and employed right from the manufacturing stage through to the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) lifecycle for spacecraft. Conventional UT data collected during ground tests enable inspectors to find and measure defects.

However, we wouldn’t exactly call ourselves conventional. The M2M Gekko® offers leading PAUT and Total Focusing Method (TFM) techniques which directly translates into better aerospace inspections faster. While phased array UT allows technicians to focus and steer the ultrasonic beam without moving the transducer, TFM goes a step beyond to synthetically focus energy at every point in a region of interest. When should you use TFM over PAUT? Check out this webinar to find out.

In the following video, you can see a cross section of the rocket as we move down to the boosters in the 3D crystal model. This example of TFM illustrating the shape of the rocket with laser impacts measuring 0.1 millimeters (0.004 inches) demonstrates the technique sensitivity, making it an excellent candidate for High Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA) and other real-world applications. Learn more about Detecting HTHA Before It’s Too Late in our application note.

The first portable unit to offer standard support for 3-axis encoding, the Gekko works with mouse type scanners for quick mapping of large plates and extensive composite spacecraft infrastructure without needing to perform raster scans. Acquisition is like painting a part with the probe; read this blog on how TFM Paints the Perfect Picture. Given its portable nature, the Gekko is well suited for in-service MRO inspections for defects such as moisture ingress, fiber and matrix interface failure, delamination, cracking, bond failure, and buckling or fracture of fibers in Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP), Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastic (GRFP), honeycomb cores and carbon laminates common to launch vehicles like rocket ships.

A desktop alternative for production and industrial applications, the M2M Panther™ offers unparalleled performance and speed, leveraging advanced PAUT and TFM imaging techniques for detecting and characterizing defects formed during the manufacturing process. See a similar application with the Surface Adapting Ultrasound, or SAUL, technique employed by an automated system for composites inspection here.

Thinking forward, the idea of recreational space exploration missions is increasingly more tangible. Our Beyond Current solutions are designed for tomorrow’s rocketry and human space programs in mind. It all starts with trusting your NDT data. Contact us to discuss your aerospace inspection requirements today.