Inflatable-rigidizeable composite space structures are an emerging technology that could revolutionize the design of large on-orbit satellites. These structural systems have the advantages of low mass, high packaging efficiency, low life cycle cost, low part counts, and high deployment reliability. As they are rigidized on-orbit, they do not depend on internal pressure to maintain their shape once deployed. However, as thin-walled structures, micrometeoroids and orbital debris (MMOD) are still a potential threat to their structural integrity. Such impacts will create punctures on the structure of varying sizes related to the size and kinetic energy of the debris/meteorite. For closed-cell geometries, such as booms or struts, MMOD objects can penetrate the outer wall twice, once on initial impact and once upon exiting the
structure. As impact damage and structural degradation will be cumulative over time, being able to monitor the structural integrity of these satellites would be of great interest. Impedance-based structural health monitoring schemes using distributed piezoelectric transducers are one possible approach. In this study, several Macro-Fiber Composite (MFC) piezoelectric devices were installed on a representative space-inflatable rigidizeable composite boom and used in ground tests as collocated sensor-actuators for detecting
and assessing simulated micrometeoroid/orbital debris strike damage. Electrical impedance signatures were compared before and after application of the simulated damage to determine the extent of the damage sustained. Both small and large footprint MFC piezocomposite sensor/actuators were shown to be effective in characterizing simulated MMOD punctures along the entire length of the boom.