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assembly of a full-scale external tank barrel section using friction stir weldingA full-scale pathfinder barrel section of the External Tank for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Transport System (Space Shuttle) has been assembled at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) via a collaborative effort between NASA/MSFC and Lockheed Martin Michoud Space Systems. The barrel section is 27.5 feet in diameter and 15 feet in height. The barrel was assembled using Super-Light-Weight (SLWT), orthogrid, Al-Li 2195 panel sections and a single longeron panel. A vertical weld tool at MSFC was modified to accommodate FSW and used to assemble the barrel. These modifications included the addition of a FSW weld head and new controller hardware and software, the addition of a backing anvil and the replacement of the clamping system with individually actuated clamps. Weld process 4evelopment was initially conducted to optimize the process for the welds required for completing the assembly. The variable thickness welds in the longeron section were conducted via both two-sided welds and with the use of a retractable pin tool. The barrel assembly was completed in October 1998. Details of the vertical weld tool modifications and the assembly process are presented.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Jones, Chip
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Adams, Glynn
(Lockheed Martin Michoud Space Systems New Orleans, LA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Subject Category
Mechanical Engineering
Meeting Information
Friction Stir Welding(Thousand Oaks, CA)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits