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Digital radiography-based 3D-CT imaging for the NDE of solid rocket propellant systems

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The application of digital radiography for the non-destructive evaluation (NDE) of space vehicle components is a recent development. A flat-panel detector-based real-time digital radiography system has been established for the NDE of solid rocket motors and space vehicle components. This system is upgraded for CT imaging by integrating a computerised object manipulator and suitable software to capture the two-dimensional projection data in real-time mode and reconstruction of CT images. The system consists of a Flat Panel Detector (FPD), mini-focus X-ray machine, computerised four-axis object manipulator and data retrieval and processing software. The two-dimensional image recording capability of FPD is utilised in this work for multiple CT reconstruction using the cone beam X-ray set-up. Studies are also carried out to generate a 3D-CT image from a set of adjacent CT images. The capability of revealing the spatial location and characterisation of defects is demonstrated by the CT and 3D-CT images generated for a solid propellant grain and rocket motor. The analysis carried out with CT and 3D-CT images of the solid propellant grain revealed the presence of more defects than are detected by digital radiography. The CT analysis exposed the criticality of defects in the propellant grain with respect to location, dimension and nature of defect.
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Keywords: 3D-CT; Computed tomography; NDE; digital radiography; solid rocket motor

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1 Senior Scientist and Division Head of the Nondestructive Testing and Analytical Division at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation, Thiruvananthapuram. He obtained his PhD in the field of laser holography for non-destructive evaluation. He is a recipient of the NDT National Award of the Indian Society for Nondestructive Testing and the Sree Chitra Award of the University of Kerala for excellence in research work in the field of NDT and laser holography. He is a Life Fellow and a Member of the National Governing Council of the Indian Society for Nondestructive Testing.

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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