Vehicle system health diagnostics is an area where major improvements have been identified for potential implementation into the design of new reusable launch vehicles in order to reduce life-cycle costs, to increase safety margins, and to improve mission reliability. NASA Ames is leading the effort to advance inspection and health
management technologies for thermal protection systems. This paper summarizes a joint effort by NASA Ames and Korteks to develop active "wireless" sensors that can be embedded in the thermal protection system to monitor subsurface temperature histories. These devices are thermocouples integrated with radio-frequency identification circuits to enable non-contact communication of temperature data through aerospace thermal protection materials. Two generations of prototype sensors are discussed. The advanced prototype collects data from three type-k thermocouples attached to a
25-mm square integrated circuit and can communicate through 7 to 10 cm thickness of thermal protection materials.