Conclusions

Despite a few minor setbacks, our testing phase was a resounding success. Team impact kept the design as close to flight-like conditions as possible. This was a very involved process that required close attention to detail. Additionally, we were required to adapt to constantly changing specifications and designs. For example, throughout the mechanical design process, there were approximately six different EHI layouts. Each different layout required the team to redesign the text fixture. Similarly, the electrical team set out to design their data acquisition system thinking that it needed to support 128 I/O. This required them to design a custom circuit board. However, the final EHI design required only a fraction of the I/O, removing the need for a custom PCB. Having to deal with these issues really helped Team Impact understand the nature of a real-life design project. Although some things do not go as planned, part of a team's success should be judged on how well they can adapt. In this regard, Team Impact performed very well in dealing with the numerous design changes.

The biggest success of Team Impact was proving that the use of thin-film sensors is a viable impact detection method. Due to the team's work, NASA has already scheduled additional testing at White Sands for the summer of 2009. The goal of testing this summer will be to minimize the errors that occurred during testing this spring. Additionally, a new wireless data acquisition system will be used. Hopefully next year another team from either NASA or University of Idaho can continue in the areas of testing that we left off at with the ultimate goal of integrating thin-film sensing technology with the Orion capsule.