Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

NASA Develops Wireless Tile Scanner For Space Shuttle Inspection

Prior to arrival of the scanners at NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, inspectors had been visually analyzing tiles and making measurements of dings and cracks with small hand-held scales.
by Staff Writers
Moffett Field, CA (SPX) Aug 08, 2007
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.

Related Links
Shuttle at NASA
Shuttle at NASA
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Shuttle News at Space-Travel.Com

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Countdown Underway For Shuttle Flight
Washington (AFP) Aug 06, 2007
NASA on Monday forecast a 70 percent chance of good weather for Wednesday's space shuttle launch, an event the US space agency hopes will help the public forget the recent stories of drunk and lovesick astronauts. The National Aeronautics and Space Agency started the countdown for the Endeavour shuttle Sunday at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:00 pm (2400 GMT) Sunday toward liftoff scheduled for 6:36 pm (2236 GMT) on August 8. Jeff Spaulding, NASA Test Director, said there were no outstanding problems that might stall the flight.

  • UC Experts Detail New Standard For Cleaner Transportation Fuels
  • Indigenous Cryogenic Stage Tested For Eight Minutes
  • Ecliptic Celebrates A Decade Of Successful RocketCam Launches
  • Launch Gantry At Cape A Bridge To The Future

  • ILS to Launch Inmarsat Satellite On Proton Vehicle Next Spring
  • Russian Proton-M Rocket To Launch Japanese Telecoms Satellite
  • A Double Transfer At The Spaceport For The Next Two Ariane 5 Launchers
  • European Automated Space Truck Arrive At South American Spaceport

  • Teacher Readies For NASA Endeavour Space-Station Shot
  • NASA Develops Wireless Tile Scanner For Space Shuttle Inspection
  • Countdown Underway For New NASA Shuttle Flight
  • Teacher Going Into Space 21 Years After Challenger Disaster

  • Progress Cargo Ship With Computer Equipment Docks With ISS
  • Progress 26 To Dock Sunday At Station
  • Russian Space Cargo Ship Progress Undocks From ISS
  • Progress To Launch To Space Station

  • Historic Phoenix Mars Mission Flies Actel RTAX-S Devices
  • Spaceport America Design Team Selected
  • Making the Transition From Shuttle To Constellation
  • Houston Wine Company Offers Wine Discount To NASA Astronauts

  • China Trains Rescue Teams For Third Manned Space Program
  • Chinese Astronauts Begin Training For Spacewalk
  • China Prepares To Select New Taikonauts
  • Dongfanghong 4 Ready For More International Satellite Orders

  • Successful Jules Verne Rendezvous Simulation At ATV Control Centre
  • Robotic Einstein Wows Spanish Technology Fair
  • Robotic Ankle For Amputees Is Developed
  • iRobot Receives New Military Orders 14 PackBot Robots

  • Dallas Professor Helps Mission To Red Planet
  • NASA Sends Robotic Lander In Search Of Water And Life On Mars
  • Extreme Analytical Chemistry Will Help Unravel Mars Mysteries
  • NASA Spacecraft Heads For Polar Region Of Mars

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement