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Katherine K. Martin
Media Relations Office
216-433-2406
katherine.martin@grc.nasa.gov

June 28, 2006
 
RELEASE : 06-031
 
 
With Upcoming Launch of Discovery, NASA Glenn Continues its Role in Shuttle Safety
 
 
As the Space Shuttle Discovery is set to launch into space this weekend to begin the first space shuttle mission in almost a year, many employees at NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, will watch with pride in a job well done.

Glenn researchers and scientists have supported various aspects of shuttle safety work during the past year, including improvements to numerous shuttle components and helping to develop repair techniques.

Over a two-week period in late March and early April, Glenn's Supersonic 8- by 6-Foot Wind Tunnel was utilized by the agency to make detailed measurements of how the shuttle would be affected by the absence of the protuberance air load ramps. Testing verified the tank is safe to fly without the ramps, making the biggest aerodynamic change in the shuttle system during the fleet's 25 year life.

Additionally, Glenn has been working with a team of participants from other NASA centers and industry to develop a model for the small area repair material, NOAX (Non-Oxide Adhesive eXperimental) to determine its behavior on re-entry. Glenn researchers are studying the chemistry of this material under the high temperatures the space shuttle experiences upon its return to Earth. Some tests of NOAX may be conducted on STS-121.

Other areas of shuttle safety work conducted at Glenn:
  • Conical seal panel pitting on rudder speed brake that helps the shuttle maneuver during descent -- performed analysis in identifying root causes of and proposed a repair plan for the pitting

  • Foam insulation on external tank -- improved analysis methods to better understand the composition, material behavior and the physics involved of the foam and developing advanced signal process methods to achieve higher resolution of flaws in the foam

  • Liquid oxygen feed line and ice frost ramp -- developed and characterized flexible foams to insulate feedline bracket, filling gap between bracket and feedline and minimizing ice formation (feed line bracket test fixture made and tested at Glenn)

  • Nose cap -- detailed understanding of the steps in the refurbishment process
  • Wing leading edge and nose cap--developing physics-based computer models to predict sealant loss on shuttle re-entry

  • Composite pressure vessels that run thrusters for shuttle maneuverability -- conducted tests and analysis to determine strength and improve ability to predict life expectancy

  • Main landing gear door environmental seals -- testing to determine seals' life

  • Cracks on flow liner -- determination of root cause and physical fixes

  • Reinforced carbon/carbon (RCC) -- developing mathematical models to describe oxidation via cracks and fissures resulting from reaction of RCC with air and developing and using nondestructive evaluation to characterize oxidation and impact damage
During the STS-121 mission to the International Space Station, the crew will continue to test new equipment and procedures that increase the safety of space shuttles. The crew will also perform maintenance on the space station and deliver more supplies and cargo for future station assembly.

For more information on shuttle safety work at Glenn, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/projects/shuttle/

For more information on STS-121, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/

 

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