The HERMESS module (Hull applied ElectroResistive MEasurement of Structural Strains) is a development dedicated to gaining a deeper understanding of the mechanical strains occuring within a rocket body during flight.
As space shifts more and more to a commercial sector, the de facto monopoly of space agencies and few big corporations gives way to emerging small and middle-sized players with big ambitions in space. In order to democratize space and open access to the cosmos for a broad public, the first step lies with the reduction of orbital transport costs. In the context of various booming rocket manufacturers, HERMESS aims at contributing to improving systems entering in the challenge of performance optimization while at the same time needing to reduce costs in a free market, which represents other possible beneficiaries of the HERMESS system in the missile industry.
Even in the age of modern rocketry, the exact range of mechanical strains in rocket bodies remains difficult to characterize, as these flight loads cannot be predicted reliably through simulations. Rocket and missile systems are therefore subjected to safety margins which in reality often are not necessary or can be diminished. The system results needing more material for a higher expected necessary stability and hereby augments fabrication costs.
The ambition of HERMESS is to create a robust and durable technology capable of gaining measurement data related to the flight loads attacking rocket structures. Knowledge about the flight loads present in the structure will contribute to advancing the optimization of rockets. A better understanding of the exact flight loads occurring in the structure allows lightweight engineering approaches that can lead to a better use of material, reducing mass and thereby costs.
Hereby new perspectives for rocket design are opened, furthermore countermeasures against risks that can possibly provoke a launch failure due to mechanical overloads can be assessed.
The strains, encompassing several forces and torques, can be calculated starting from measurements with a system of electroresistive gauge strains and temperature sensors that will feed signals to the system throughout the flight phase and later on will be subjected to a profound analysis process.
The measurement system developed within the HERMESS project is valuable asset for rocket and missile systems. Flexible adaptability and custom-made components from the sensor system to the signal processing unit make HERMESS transferable to various systems. In the long term, the data gained by HERMESS can be of considerable value for R&D departments as a tool for structural optimization.