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STS-133 Space Shuttle External Tank Intertank Stringer Crack Investigation Stress Analysis
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Author and Affiliation:
Steeve, Brian E.(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States)
Abstract: The first attempt to launch the STS-133 Space Shuttle mission in the fall of 2010 was halted due to indications of a gaseous hydrogen leak at the External Tank ground umbilical carrier plate seal. Subsequent inspection of the external tank (figure 1) hardware and recorded video footage revealed that the foam insulation covering the forward end of the intertank near the liquid oxygen tank had cracked severely enough to have been cause for halting the launch attempt on its own (figure 2). An investigation into the cause of the insulation crack revealed that two adjacent hat-section sheet metal stringers (figure 3) had cracks up to nine inches long in the forward ends of the stringer flanges, or feet, near the fasteners that attach the stringer to the skin of the intertank (figure 4). A repair of those two stringers was implemented and the investigation effort widened to understand the root cause of the stringer cracks and to determine whether there was sufficient flight rationale to launch with the repairs and the other installed stringers.
Publication Date: Apr 23, 2012
Document ID:
(Acquired Oct 13, 2012)
Report/Patent Number: M11-0932, M12-1629, M12-1724
Document Type: Conference Paper
Meeting Information: 53rd AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference 2012; 23 - 26 Apr 2012; Honolulu, HI; United States
Meeting Sponsor: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Reston, VA, United States
American Society of Mechanical Engineers; New York, NY, United States
American Society of Civil Engineers; Reston, VA, United States
American Helicopter Society, Inc.; New York, NY, United States
American Society for Composites; Dayton, OH, United States
Financial Sponsor: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; Huntsville, AL, United States
Organization Source: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center; Huntsville, AL, United States
Description: 36p; In English; Original contains color illustrations
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: No Copyright
Miscellaneous Notes: PDF includes Conference abstract, paper, and oral/visual presentation
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