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'[OT]: Columbia - major tile damage from insulation'
2003\02\28@073743 by Russell McMahon

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Here's a December 1997 report on major tile damage to Columbia in 1997
(STS-87) due to impact from foam from the ET.


http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/people/journals/space/katnik/sts87-12-23.html


                    Russell McMahon
__________________________________

Excerpt:

Damage numbering up to forty tiles is considered normal on each mission due
to ice dropping off of the external tank (ET) and plume re-circulation
causing this debris to impact with the tiles. But the extent of damage at
the conclusion of this mission was not "normal."

The pattern of hits did not follow aerodynamic expectations, and the number,
size and severity of hits were abnormal. Three hundred and eight hits were
counted during the inspection, one-hundred and thirty two (132) were greater
than one inch. Some of the hits measured fifteen (15) inches long with
depths measuring up to one and one-half (1 1/2) inches. Considering that the
depth of the tile is two (2) inches, a 75% penetration depth had been
reached. Over one hundred (100) tiles have been removed from the Columbia
because they were irreparable. The inspection revealed the damage, now the
"detective process" began.

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2003\02\28@145830 by Peter L. Peres

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I was thinking about something. Why don't they put the insulation inside
the tanks instead of outside ? It would have to be inert in contact with
LoX but such things exist. If at least the top side of the tank would have
the insulation foamed on the inside the risk of banging pieces against the
shuttle would be lower, no ? There are these new substances (like glass
foam) that would probably work. There is also the trick of not using
insulation. I think that the big rockets used for Apollo missions did not
have insulation on the first stage, just an air space, and they just
boiled fuel off all the time until launch. Am I wrong ?

Peter

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2003\02\28@150814 by Spehro Pefhany

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At 09:58 PM 2/28/2003 +0200, you wrote:
>I was thinking about something. Why don't they put the insulation inside
>the tanks instead of outside ? It would have to be inert in contact with
>LoX but such things exist. If at least the top side of the tank would have
>the insulation foamed on the inside the risk of banging pieces against the
>shuttle would be lower, no ? There are these new substances (like glass
>foam) that would probably work. There is also the trick of not using
>insulation. I think that the big rockets used for Apollo missions did not
>have insulation on the first stage, just an air space, and they just
>boiled fuel off all the time until launch. Am I wrong ?

I don't know, but I was wondering why the shuttle wasn't attached with the
tiles to the outside. You'd think that the top would be a better place to
put attachment points and the top of the orbiter is probably a lot more
resistant to damage.

Best regards,


Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
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2003\02\28@160303 by Peter L. Peres

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On Fri, 28 Feb 2003, Spehro Pefhany wrote:

*>At 09:58 PM 2/28/2003 +0200, you wrote:
*>>I was thinking about something. Why don't they put the insulation inside
*>>the tanks instead of outside ? It would have to be inert in contact with
*>>LoX but such things exist. If at least the top side of the tank would have
*>>the insulation foamed on the inside the risk of banging pieces against the
*>>shuttle would be lower, no ? There are these new substances (like glass
*>>foam) that would probably work. There is also the trick of not using
*>>insulation. I think that the big rockets used for Apollo missions did not
*>>have insulation on the first stage, just an air space, and they just
*>>boiled fuel off all the time until launch. Am I wrong ?
*>
*>I don't know, but I was wondering why the shuttle wasn't attached with the
*>tiles to the outside. You'd think that the top would be a better place to
*>put attachment points and the top of the orbiter is probably a lot more
*>resistant to damage.

They would have to make the tail foldable like on some russian fighters
;-(

I have read some articles on the way the reentry bodies were designed and
built and tested and the tail was always a big problem. They just kept
adding tail until it was too big and then they lived with it like that
from what I understand.

Peter

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2003\02\28@164249 by Wagner Lipnharski

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Thermal tiles are fragile, you can transverse it with a pencil.  They
should be protected all the way until reentry. They are not necessary
anyway until the shuttle returns and hit atmosphere at high speed.  Even a
thin metal foil all the way over the tiles would avoid the problem.  Let it
burn upon reentry, or just discard it in space before reentry.

It is amazing to think that even a 3 lbs bird flying at 2000ft can damage
seriously the tiles and plant a big risk at the reentry.  The shuttle
lift-off speed at 2000ft crash with the bird would be enough to damage
several tiles.

Based on the actual jokes around, perhaps some yards of Duct-Tape could
hold the external tank foam in place...

Wagner.

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'[OT]: Columbia - major tile damage from insulation'
2003\03\01@185339 by M. Adam Davis
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Could be related to size economies.  I don't know how much foam they
have to add, but perhaps the extra 2-10 inches diameter are needed for
extra LOx, but can't be added interior for shipping/assembling reasons.

Or it could simply be a cost cutting feature of the tank.

-Adam

Peter L. Peres wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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