Author Topic: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues  (Read 48515 times)

Offline Ares67

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RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« on: 06/03/2012 07:39 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #1 on: 06/03/2012 07:41 PM »
During the Christmas holiday season 1987/1988, while being on a skiing vacation in the Bavarian Alps, I personally got a little bit worried hearing the news of yet another delay in the Space Shuttle’s RTF schedule, due to the problems experienced during Dec. 23’s booster test in Utah. I knew I had to join mandatory military service in the Bundeswehr, the Federal Republic’s Armed Forces, in fall of 1988 – obviously that would make following events in the space program much more difficult  than it used to be during my high school years.

And indeed it was a close call: Discovery eventually was launched Thursday, September 29, 1988 – with an unnerving bunch of potential show-stoppers cropping up almost until the last moments before lift-off. On Monday, October 3 – the day Rick Hauck and his crew returned to Edwards Air Force Base in California – I reported as a fresh recruit to my unit, becoming a member of West-Germany’s Army Air Defense Forces near Hannover. As it turned out, much to my surprise, I kind of enjoyed the following 15 months with the Army and, contrary to my earlier apprehensions – with a little help from family and friends, was able to get hold of every piece of space information I was interested in. Mind you, we are talking about the pre-internet era.

And by the way, when I left military service in December 1989 with the rank of PFC, I really could say: “Mission Accomplished!” The Iron Curtain in Europe was down and Germany was on its way to reunification… Well, okay, there may have been some other contributing factors and political processes… But one thing is for sure: My comrades and I had been some of the last “Cold Warriors”… ;)  ;D

Offline Ares67

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #2 on: 06/03/2012 07:44 PM »
But enough about my “wartime” stories – let’s continue our journey toward NASA’s Return to Space. This thread will cover Space Shuttle and other space events between January 1988 and final preparations on September 28, 1988 – the day before lift-off. The actual mission report will follow in the upcoming Discovery STS-26 thread. Okay, let’s go…

Offline Ares67

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #3 on: 06/03/2012 07:49 PM »
January 3: DISCOVERY LAUNCH DELAYED UP TO THREE MONTHS
The failure of a rocket booster nozzle will delay the scheduled June 2 launch of Discovery by two to three months, according to Gerald Smith, chief of the Solid Rocket Booster project at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. The current design of the boot ring – used to anchor one end of the nozzle to the booster's casing - is inadequate, officials said. "It's a possibility leaning toward a probability," that the current design won't be used, said John Thomas, solid rocket motor redesign manager for NASA. The launch delay will be held to no more than three months if the design used in tests on August 30 can still be used, officials said. (Florida Today, Jan. 4, 1988)

January 4:  NOZZLE RING DAMAGE SEVERE
NASA's redesigned Solid Rocket Booster sustained more severe damage than at first thought; serious design flaws could indicate further serious delays for the Shuttle Program. John Thomas, NASA's head of the booster redesign team, said engineers who disassembled the booster during the weekend found "sharp breaks" in the nozzle's carbon outer boot ring and had been ripped apart in six places. Investigators are studying reasons other than design flaws to explain the test failure.

"It appears to be the design flaw at this point, but it's hard to say until the investigation is completed," said David Winterhalter, NASA's director of systems engineering and analysis. Thomas said it would take "several more days" before engineers finished a detailed review of the test evidence. NASA may decide to swap the failed boot ring design for the one which was tested successfully in August and if that decision is made, the segments could be shipped to Kennedy Space Center for stacking in early March with a possible launch in September. Winterhalter said "that's attractive in that we have the existing pieces and schedule-wise it's a good option. But we don't want to move ahead too fast.” (The Orlando Sentinel, Jan. 5, 1988)

DELAY WON'T AFFECT KSC’S SCHEDULE
"I don't see how eight to 12 weeks is going to affect us," said KSC spokeswoman Lisa Malone concerning the effect the Dec. 23 test failure of the SRB will have on Kennedy Space Center. Also today, an internal NASA report prepared by a group of safety experts concluded that the agency still lacks the engineers, guidelines or leadership to ensure Shuttle safety; it concluded that safety was taking a back seat to
schedule pressures and costs. "As one worker put it, 'Their words say safety, but their actions say don't worry about it'," the committee report concluded. (Florida Today, Jan. 5, 1988)

January 5: HOT GASES REACHED O-RING DURING DEC. 23 BOOSTER TEST
Engineers from NASA and Morton Thiokol Inc. discovered that hot gases reached an O-ring seal in a critical rocket joint in the Dec. 23 SRB test failure. NASA officials expressed only minor concern because the O-ring had stopped the gas and was not damaged, but they conceded that the seal should not have been exposed at all to the gas. David Winterhalter, in charge of the booster program for NASA, said that the agency was studying it to see why it happened and that "we do not believe it is harmful." (The New York Times, Jan. 6, 1988)

January 6: NASA TO USE BACKUP PART IN MARCH BOOSTER TEST
John Thomas, chief of the booster redesign team for NASA, said that the agency has decided to use a backup design for a failed component in the SRB. NASA plans to push for a March 20 full-scale test firing of the rocket. Thomas said the March test firing will not take place till engineers have ascertained the cause of the Dec. 23 test failure. "What we're continuing to do," said Thomas, "is to look at the hardware and crank out the data that we hope will tell us what happened. What we've got to do is understand all the possible failure modes." (The Orlando Sentinel, Jan. 7, 1988)

THE FIRST OF DISCOVERY'S MAIN ENGINES ARRIVES AT KSC
The first of Discovery's main engines (SSME No. 2019) arrived at Kennedy Space Center tonight and will be installed (Pos. #1 / top) Jan. 10. The other two engines are expected in the next two weeks. Each of the engines has been test-fired three times at NASA’s National Space Technology Laboratories near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Florida Today, Jan. 8, 1988)

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #4 on: 06/03/2012 07:51 PM »
January 7: BOOSTER FLAW LESS SERIOUS THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
A key component of the Solid Rocket Booster tested Dec. 23 probably did not fall off during the firing, but rather just after the test ended, so industry and Space officials do not view the problem as being as serious as first thought. J. R. Thompson, Marshall Space Flight Center Director, said engineers found evidence that an abrupt change in booster pressure in the nozzle seconds after the test firing may have caused the 8-foot diameter boot ring to drop off. In any event, the incident would not have affected a Shuttle mission.

Thompson said the failure analysis team, made up of engineers at Marshall and Morton Thiokol Inc., found severe delamination in the DM-9 outer boot ring, and he suspects the flaw occurred because of the way an internal ply of carbon cloth was laid on before curing. Delamination is the unraveling of the carbon plies that make up the carbon phenolic block that is the outer boot ring, Thompson explained. The ablative ring protects the flex bearing from 4,000-plus degrees Fahrenheit generated by the SRM. The flex bearing is the reusable part of the solid rocket motor that allows the nozzle to be swiveled and thus “steer” the Space Shuttle.

Although the analysis team is still evaluating data from the DM-9, Thompson said it appears the failure was caused by the severe thermal environment, not the mechanical loads associated with the gimbaling. Extreme gimbal angles tested in DM-9 are not expected to affect the DM-8 configuration boot ring, he said. More severe gimbal angles will be treid in future test, including Qualification Motor-6 in late March, QM-7 in late May and the Production Verification Motor in mid-June, he said.

“If this failure occurred in flight just the way it did in our DM-9 firing, it would have no adverse effect on safety at all, “Thompson said. “In all of our tests, including DM-9, we are getting no heat back to that reusable flex bearing. So we’ve got plenty of margin in that part.”

Work already has begun on removing the DM-9-configuration boot ring from the flight nozzles being readied for shipment to KSC and replacing them with DM-8 boot ring configuration, Thompson said.

“When we’re in this situation trying to recover from an accident, we have several alternate designs for a lot of different things,” said NASA administrator James C. Fletcher, who also participated in the press conference (Jan. 11). “It’s clear from the results that the DM-8 was a better configuration than DM-9, so we’re going back to the original design. That’s going to happen again; we have backup designs for almost everything. The NASA Research Council Advisory Committee has strongly urged us to do this.”  (The New York Times, Jan. 8, 1988 and JSC Space News Roundup, Jan. 15, 1988)

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #5 on: 06/03/2012 07:56 PM »
January 8: EVA TRAINING

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #6 on: 06/03/2012 07:59 PM »

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #7 on: 06/03/2012 08:05 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #8 on: 06/03/2012 08:09 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #9 on: 06/03/2012 08:13 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #10 on: 06/03/2012 08:17 PM »

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #11 on: 06/03/2012 08:19 PM »

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #12 on: 06/03/2012 08:23 PM »

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #13 on: 06/03/2012 08:27 PM »

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #14 on: 06/03/2012 08:28 PM »

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #15 on: 06/03/2012 08:30 PM »
January 11: DISCOVERY DELAYED TILL JULY/AUGUST
Discovery's launch from Kennedy Space Center has been delayed from slx to ten weeks from its originally scheduled June 2 launch date, according to NASA spaceflight chief Rear Admiral Richard Truly. The delay is due to the need to replace a booster nozzle component which failed in the test-firing on Dec. 23, 1987. "We are well on our way to a good solution, understanding what happened, and also to justifying to ourselves that we have a design that’s safe. I believe we are six to ten weeks from our previous planning date" of June 2, Truly said. "That puts the next Shuttle flight in the August time frame." A firm date will not be set till investigators finish their work on the Dec. 23 test.

Truly said the analysis team has determined that the DM-9 boot ring failure occurred one to two seconds following the Dec. 23 full-duration firing during a post-firing gimbal. Truly said no other major hardware changes are being debated in the program. “We know what (boot ring) configuration we want to fly. It’s just a matter of getting through successfully these next motor firings and also the processing and getting ready to fly,” he said.

NASA Administrator James Fletcher, who participated in the press conference, also responded to speculation in Washington, D.C., that the STS-26 launch might be delayed until after the national convention or the November election. “As long as I’m in this job, politics will continue to take a back seat to readiness,” he said. “And readiness means that the shuttle will fly only when it’s as safe as we can make it.” (The Orlando Sentinel, Jan. 12, 1988, and JSC Space News Roundup, Jan. 15, 1988 - edited)

January 13: TDRS DEPLOYMENT TRAINING

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #16 on: 06/03/2012 08:32 PM »

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #17 on: 06/03/2012 08:37 PM »

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #18 on: 06/03/2012 08:39 PM »

Offline Ares67

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Re: RTF 1988 – The Journey Continues
« Reply #19 on: 06/03/2012 08:42 PM »

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