[sarex] NASA Develops Wireless Tile Scanner for Space Shuttle Inspection
azrowe80 at verizon.net
Tue Aug 7 09:14:04 PDT 2007
SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468
> Aug. 7, 2007
> Katherine Trinidad
> Headquarters, Washington
> katherine.trinidad at nasa.gov
> John Bluck
> Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
> john.g.bluck at nasa.gov
> NASA DEVELOPS WIRELESS TILE SCANNER FOR SPACE SHUTTLE INSPECTION
> MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - A new space shuttle tile inspection method
> using NASA-built, wireless scanners is replacing manual inspection.
> The new process begins with the upcoming shuttle mission, STS-118.
> Endeavour is scheduled to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in
> Florida on Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 6:36 p.m. EDT.
> Technicians have been using six new scanners to look for cracks and
> other imperfections in some of the 24,000 tiles that cover space
> shuttle Endeavour. The agency designed and built the new tools at
> NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. In the past,
> workers at Kennedy visually analyzed tiles and measured dings and
> cracks with small hand-held scales.
> "The new method is much faster and more accurate because the depth and
> volume measurements of the flaws and their locations are wirelessly
> transmitted into a computer database," said Joe Lavelle, a senior
> engineer and project manager at Ames. "This tool allows the
> inspectors to determine with very high confidence whether a shuttle
> tile needs to be replaced or just repaired."
> "When they made the measurements manually with the scales, they had to
> estimate the volume of flaws to a worst-case value because they could
> not precisely measure the volume with any accuracy," Lavelle
> explained. "With this scanner, they will actually save tiles and the
> time-consuming process of replacing them."
> The thermal tiles on the space shuttle protect it from the extreme
> heat generated during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. After
> each shuttle lands, technicians go through a very rigorous and
> lengthy process to assess the surface of the tiles for any damage.
> Each scanner weighs approximately 2.9 pounds and is about the size and
> shape of a small teapot. Technicians place the machine on the tile's
> flaw to scan it. In about three seconds, the data are computerized
> and archived.
> Engineers can scrutinize computerized 3-D pictures of the flaws. The
> images show the length, width and depth of the flaws on the surface
> of the tiles. Although engineers designed the instrument to scan
> space shuttle tiles, it also could scan reinforced carbon-carbon
> material used on the leading edges of the shuttle's wings.
> Engineers developing a heat shield system for NASA's new spaceship
> Orion already are using a larger, desktop version of the scanner to
> study heat shield samples tested at Ames. NASA is building a second
> desktop scanner for use at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
> The unit should be completed in about two months.
> For high-resolution images of the scanner, visit:
> For more information and the space shuttle and upcoming mission,
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