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  STS-117: Left OMS pod blanket repair

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Author Topic:   STS-117: Left OMS pod blanket repair
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 06-12-2007 07:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yesterday, NASA mission managers extended the planned duration of STS-117 by two days to allow for the addition of a fourth spacewalk, in part to repair the corner of a thermal blanket protruding from the left Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod. These photos, released by NASA, establish the nature of the damage:

To quote Bill Harwood, CBS/Spaceflight Now:

quote:
The concern is that hot air during re-entry could damage the underlying graphite epoxy structure of the left-side Orbital Maneuvering System rocket pod. During the 15 minutes or so of peak heating, the temperatures on the OMS pods reach 700 to 1,000 degree Fahrenheit. While engineers do not view this as a life-or-death sort of problem - shuttles have safely returned to Earth with much more serious OMS pod damage - there are enough unknowns to prompt caution.
Damage to the OMS pod thermal blankets has been seen on several previous missions:

As it turns out the material used in the blanket will make the fix relatively straight forward, writes Harwood:

quote:
"If you take this blanket and you pull it up like the wind is hitting it, it'll stay up like that," [Mission Management Team chair John] Shannon said. "It's got some memory. But when you push it back down, it stays down. That's something we're kind of counting on. We think the astronauts will be able to go out there and just push this right back down. They're working right now different ways to attach it to the blanket that's laying beside it or maybe to attach it to the tile face that's in front of it."

The repair work is expected to take 90 minutes to two hours to complete. An astronaut, his feet anchored to an extension on the end of the shuttle's robot arm, will be maneuvered back to the left-side OMS pod and push the flap down.


Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-12-2007 07:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"They're working right now different ways to attach it to the blanket that's laying beside it or maybe to attach it to the tile face that's in front of it."

The two primary techniques being looked at are being referred to as "staple" or "stitch." These photos (courtesy someone@jsc.nasa.gov, though B-roll of the tests from which these photos were taken have aired on NASA TV) show the tools involved.

The blunt-end needle used to "sew" the blanket is usually used to resize the EMU's arms and legs. In this application, it is equivalent to a darning needle.

The remaining three photos show the "staple" technique, using a tool from the on-board medical kit:

According to John Shannon, MMT chair, the favored approach right now is to "sew" the thermal blanket to its neighbor. The tests conducted today were conducted by STS-115 mission specialist Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper.

GACspaceguy
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posted 06-13-2007 05:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert! As an Engineer that deals with aircraft repairs all day this is just the type of update I am looking for! This lines up with our office unofficial moto " You break it, we fix it!" Can't wait to see this EVA.

robsouth
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posted 06-13-2007 06:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember from the STS 1 mission that they had some missing tiles on the OMS pods in around about the same place, they came home without doing any repairs.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-13-2007 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As mentioned by Harwood, citing Shannon, "While engineers do not view this as a life-or-death sort of problem - shuttles have safely returned to Earth with much more serious OMS pod damage - there are enough unknowns to prompt caution."

Even if NASA could clear the OMS pod from a flight safety viewpoint, there is the also the the concern should post-landing repairs be required. There are no spare OMS pods that NASA could use to swap out on Atlantis while this one was being fixed. As such, any repair need would have an impact on the turnaround of the orbiter and by connection, the launch schedule. So, if a relatively simple and short EVA can be used to avert any damage, it makes operational sense to do the repair as well.

kr4mula
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From: Cinci, OH
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posted 06-13-2007 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Doesn't the argument that they've "returned safely with more serious damage" sound familiar? I realize in the post-Challenger and post-Columbia environment, NASA is being very thorough in its investigation and will make some repairs on orbit, but for this sort of defensive rationale to actually come up again seems to be revealing. It's one thing to point out parallels, but another thing entirely to suggest it's not "life or death" on the basis of those prior incidences.

Cheers,

Kevin

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-13-2007 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I haven't perceived any "defensive rationale" raised in this situation. NASA is simply sharing their own reasons why they decided to conduct the repair. Were they not to draw parallels between prior missions or comment on whether the damage was "life or death", you can be certain that the same points would be asked by any number of the reporters participating in the daily briefings. I think you are reading far too much into what surmounts to a summary.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-13-2007 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mission managers decided today to "staple" the protruding thermal blanket on Atlantis' left OMS pod during the third STS-117 spacewalk, scheduled for Friday. Mission specialists James "JR" Reilly and John "Danny" Olivas will perform the EVA, as was originally planned.

An astronaut positioned by the shuttle's robotic arm will first use his gloves or, if desired, a scraper tool intended for other thermal protection system (TPS) repairs, to pat down the insulation. The material is such that it is expected to remain flat (in relation to the surrounding area) rather than fold back up.


Mission Management Team chair John Shannon demonstrates the 3M Precise Multi-Shot Disposable Skin Stapler. The device carries 15 staples; eight of the the staplers are planned to be brought outside for use during the repair.

The crewman will then apply a double row of staples using a device from the shuttle's medical kit. According to Mission Management Team chair John Shannon, these are not your average office supply staples, but act more like fish hooks once inserted.

Lastly, the spacewalker will insert nickel-chromium pins, also designed for TPS repairs, through the insulation into the thermal tiles that it borders, to attach one to the other. To assist with inserting the pins, the crewman will have a dental tool from the shuttle's medical kit.


Shannon shows the dental probe.

Though this method has been selected as the preferred repair, NASA plans on Thursday to test the configuration on the ground for its tolerance to reentry-level heating, as well as test the currently-exposed OMS pod graphite epoxy honeycomb skin under the same thermal conditions.

According to Shannon, if the repair proceeds on EVA 3 at the time when they expect it now to happen, than Olivas will perform the fix.

Edited by Robert Pearlman

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2007 05:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For an excellent overview of the upcoming EVA activities, you can download this 1.5mb PDF of the crew overview package that was uplinked to Atlantis earlier today. Included are "big picture words," step by step instructions and many illustrations and photographs.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 09:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today's spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 12:38 p.m. CDT with the OMS pod repair starting just 20 minutes later at 12:58 p.m. The entire spacewalk will be carried live on NASA TV.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today's spacewalk began a bit early at 12:24 p.m. CDT. Danny Olivas is currently preparing to get on the end of the shuttle's robotic arm to be moved near the left OMS pod and the area where he will conduct the repair to the thermal blanket.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 02:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 02:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 03:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 03:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 03:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-15-2007 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

And with that, the repair is complete. As the above screen captures from NASA TV illustrate, the repair was deemed by Danny Olivas and ground controllers as successfully implemented.

The spacewalk continues now with the tasks originally planned for Jim "JR" Reilly and Olivas.

Moonwalker1954
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posted 06-16-2007 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Moonwalker1954   Click Here to Email Moonwalker1954     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent report Robert!

Thank you from those of us who couldn't watch it live.

Pierre-Yves

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