March 29, 2023 — The NASGRO® software suite will be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame alongside the leaders of its development team, Southwest Research Institute’s Dr. Craig McClung and Joe Cardinal, as well as Joachim Beek of NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). The award ceremony will occur during the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. NASGRO, originally developed by NASA and currently managed by SwRI, analyzes fatigue crack growth and fracture in structures and mechanical components. It is a key tool used to substantiate the structural integrity of aircraft, spacecraft, rotorcraft, gas turbine engines, pressure vessels and other safety critical hardware.
“I’m very honored to be recognized by the Space Technology Hall of Fame,” McClung said. “NASGRO is a truly collaborative effort. It has been a privilege to work with so many talented people over the years, improving this technology so it can continue to make aircraft, spacecraft, and other critical structures safer.”
Created in 1988, the Space Technology Hall of Fame increases public awareness of the benefits of space exploration and encourages further innovation by recognizing individuals, organizations and companies that effectively adapt and market technologies originally developed for space to improve the quality of life for all humanity. NASGRO is one of three inductees into the Space Technology Hall of Fame this year.
The NASGRO software suite had been originally developed by NASA for the Space Shuttle program to monitor and maintain the structural integrity of the first reusable spacecraft, which repeatedly experienced the stresses of takeoff and reentry. After a series of airplane crashes and incidents in the late 1980s and early 1990s caused by cracks that were previously thought to be insignificant, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration were tasked to improve the safety and reliability of commercial aircraft. NASGRO was developed in response and within a few years became the worldwide standard for fracture mechanics analysis.
NASGRO assesses the integrity of structures and systems that may contain cracks using state-of-the-art analytical solutions and an extensive database of material properties. It determines how quickly a hypothetical crack missed during an inspection could grow to cause component fracture.
In 2000, as demand for NASGRO continued to grow, NASA-JSC partnered with SwRI to manage, license and jointly develop future versions of the software suite. SwRI’s role also includes leading the NASGRO Industrial Consortium, currently comprising twenty-four major companies from around the world. With their support and input, SwRI continues to enhance NASGRO for applications beyond its historical roots in the NASA space program, while NASA continues to apply NASGRO for all their critical space structures. SwRI has distributed NASGRO licenses to thousands of users in hundreds of organizations world-wide and SwRI staff have trained over 1,700 NASGRO users in nearly ninety short courses.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to have helped lead NASGRO’s development over so many years, and I’m thrilled that NASGRO, Dr. McClung and I have been selected for the Space Technology Hall of Fame,” Cardinal said. “NASGRO is just one great example of the type of impactful work that SwRI is known for, illustrating our technical development skills and our ability to successfully transfer key technology to the public sector.”
In 2003, NASGRO received an R&D 100 award, recognizing it as one of the 100 most important innovations of the year by R&D Magazine. That same year, NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board recognized the tool as its Software of the Year. Version 10.1 was released in 2022.
NASGRO, McClung, Cardinal and Beek will be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame at the 38th Annual Space Symposium, which will take place April 17-20 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For more information, visit www.spacesymposium.org.
For more information, visit NASGRO or contact Joanna Quintanilla, +1 210 522 2073, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.