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ISS Ammonia Pump Failure, Recovery, and Lesson Learned A Hydrodynamic Bearing PerspectiveThe design, development, and operation of long duration spaceflight hardware has become an evolutionary process in which meticulous attention to details and lessons learned from previous experiences play a critical role. Invaluable to this process is the ability to retrieve and examine spaceflight hardware that has experienced a premature failure. While these situations are rare and unfortunate, the failure investigation and recovery from the event serve a valuable purpose in advancing future space mechanism development. Such a scenario began on July 31, 2010 with the premature failure of an ammonia pump on the external active thermal control system of the International Space Station. The ground-based inspections of the returned pump and ensuing failure investigation revealed five potential bearing forces that were un-accounted for in the design phase and qualification testing of the pump. These forces could combine in a number of random orientations to overload the pump bearings leading to solid-surface contact, wear, and premature failure. The recovery plan identified one of these five forces as being related to the square of the operating speed of the pump and this fact was used to recover design life through a change in flight rules for the operation of the pump module. Through the course of the failure investigation, recovery, and follow-on assessment of pump wear life, design guidance has been developed to improve the life of future mechanically pumped thermal control systems for both human and robotic exploration missions.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Bruckner, Robert J. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Manco, Richard A., II (Sierra Lobo, Inc. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
April 2, 2015
Publication Date
May 1, 2014
Publication Information
Publication: The 42nd Aerospace Mechanism Symposium
Subject Category
Space Sciences (General)
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Mechanical Engineering
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20140008875Analytic PrimaryThe 42nd Aerospace Mechanism Symposium