NASA work their plan for OMS Pod repair – confirmed for EVA-3

by Chris Bergin

NASA and contractor engineers have created a full set of plans – via numerous presentations and test article reproductions – to aid the process of repairing the port OMS Pod Blanket on Shuttle Atlantis.

Although the circumstances aren’t desirable, mission support for Atlantis have once again shown their expertise in working a problem, as STS-117 mission continues ahead of the special addition to EVA-3 that will put the protruding blanket back in place.

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The effort is utilizing all related departments, from the Orbiter Project Office (OPO) to Mission Operations Directive (MOD), who have down selected two viable options for the repair of the blanket.

The first option is the primary choice by the MMT (Mission Management Team), with the second to be used as a back-up in the event of it being required.

‘Per the Special OPO telecon, the team (OPO, DAT, MOD, Engineering, etc) decided to down select to the following TPS repairs methods:

‘OPTION A – Use medical stapler to staple blankets together in two layers (middle then top), then pin forward edge of blanket to tile using NiChrome pins from TPS Overlay Kit,’ noted information – including many presentations – by this site’s L2 section.

‘OPTION B – Use EMU servicing needle to sew blankets together using stainless steel wire together at top, then pin forward edge of blanket to tile using NiChrome pins from TPS Overlay Kit.’

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The actual Flight Day on which this repair has now been confirmed for EVA-3.

‘We did pick one repair method,’ noted deputy shuttle manager and MMT chair John Shannon. ‘This was rated highly successful and could be done. So we decided we’d go ahead and add it on EVA-3.’

As part of the evaluations is the use of T-Rad, which was developed as part of the arsenal of TPS (Thermal Protection System). Technicians are looking at possible use of T-Rad’s STA-54 as an adhesive to rebond the blanket.

‘Dispense one bead of STA-54 onto cavity floor and one along forward and side edge of cavity. Push blanket back into cavity,’ was one option looked at. The other being the idea of filling the cavity with the STA-54 solution, before ‘tamping into the cavity.’

However, at a later OPO meeting, the idea appears to be a back up plan, as they noted T-Rad/STA-54 would: ‘not pursed unless material properties show failure of stapler, pins and wire stitch.’

One of the final hurdles will be wind tunnel tests to determine how options will hold up during re-entry temperatures and the aerodynamic stresses before landing. These tests will be carried out on Wednesday.

‘Wind tunnel test required to support Team 4 Repair,’ added another presentation. ‘3 articles being fabricated at KSC – ECD is 6/14 in AM. Previous test article being shipped from AMES to KSC – 6/13. EVA Team #4 perform repair – similar to on-orbit repair.’

Already completed are tests by the Engineering Robotics Team, who performed analysis to evaluate the stability of the proposed OMS POD repair location. Their effort provided a synopsis of the results for the broader community to understand the SRMS capabilities and stability in the proposed location.

‘The stability analysis showed that for the static load cases, there were no violations,’ they concluded.

Further articles will be produced in the run-up to this special EVA task.

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