Neat stuff with details of the stinger cracks from ET-137
After propellant was loaded into the external tank (ET), the November 5, 2010 launch of Space Shuttle mission STS-133 was scrubbed due to a gaseous hydrogen leak located in a vent line near the ground umbilical and ET connection. Subsequent visual inspections identified cracks in the sprayed-on foam insulation in the forward end of the ET intertank segment, adjacent to the liquid oxygen (LOX) tank, as shown in Figure 1. These cracks necessitated repair of the foam due to debris concerns that violated launch constraints. As part of the repair process, the affected foam was removed to reveal cracks in the underlying external hat stiffeners on the intertank, as shown in Figure 2. Ultimately, five stiffeners were discovered to be cracked adjacent to the LOX tank. As the managing center for the ET Project, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) coordinated failure investigation and repair activities among multiple organizations, which included the ET prime contractor (Lockheed Martin Space Systems Michoud Operations), the Space Shuttle Program Office at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC), and the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC). STS-133 utilized the external tank designated as ET-137. Many aspects of the investigation have been reported previously in Refs. 1-7, which focus on the root cause of the failures, the flight readiness rationale and the local analyses of the stringer failures and repair. This paper summarizes the global analyses that were conducted on ET-137 as part of the NESC effort during the investigation, which was conducted primarily to determine if the repairs that were introduced to the stringers would alter the global response of the ET. In the process of the investigation, a new STAGS tabular input capability was developed to more easily introduce the aerodynamic pressure loads using a method that could easily be extended to incorporate finite element property data such as skin and stiffener thicknesses and beam cross-sectional properties.