We report the sensing of explosive materials and illicit drugs by using terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS) and imaging. Several explosive materials, such as γ-HNIW, RDX, 2,4-DNT, TNT, Nitro-aniline, and illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine (MA) etc were researched here. Non-destructive testing, as one of the major applications of THz imaging, can be applied to an area of critical need: the testing of aerospace materials. Composite materials such as carbon fiber are widely used in this industry. The nature of their use requires technologies that are able to differentiate between safe and unsafe materials, due to either manufacturing tolerance or damage acquired while in use. In this paper, we discuss the applicability of terahertz (THz) imaging systems to this purpose, focusing on graphite fiber composite materials, carbon silicon composite materials and so on. We applied THz imaging technology to evaluate the fire damage to a variety of carbon fiber composite samples. Major carbon fiber materials have polarization-dependent reflectivity in THz frequency range, and we show how the polarization dependence changes versus the burned damage level. Additionally, time domain information acquired through a THz time-domain spectroscopy (TDS) system provides further information with which to characterize the damage. We also detect fuel tank insulation foam panel defects with pulse and continuous-wave (CW) terahertz system.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.