Friday, November 21, 2008

Cool shot of an engine test

They tested the launch abort motor in Utah. I like the four distinct plumes. Here's the article, with some videos too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shell Buckling

This is from my first project at TBE/NASA. I used some of my real-time modeling skills to make the CAD models look more realistic. The test article, lit so brightly that it looks like a warp engine, was a scale version of a rocket skin, and built with greatest care. Then, we squeezed it until it buckled with a wonderful boom, all in the name of science. They got some very good data from it. Here's an article about it. I call it the "Can Crusher".

They have buckled a second and third article, with plans to do more. We may also build another one of these, twice the size, without the brown towers.

My poster, rendered from my Pro/E model.

The actual article, built from my prints, all ready for the first test.
From Swamp Castle

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Focus on Marshall video

Cool! My test is in Focus on Marshall, episode 31, November 2008! Mine is the shell buckling, which they talk about in the video, after the ullage motor bit. I guess I didn't rate for the interview, but whatever. Fist test may be tomorrow!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Shuttle Photo

Two Shuttles ready for launch to repair the Hubble Space Telescope in October.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MSFC Dynamic Test Stand Photos

Here are some photos Bryan took the day we went up on the dynamic test stand, and then spliced together later. In these photos, the floor is still configured for shaking the shuttle "Enterprise". You can see roughly shuttle-shaped holes in the floor, where it was suspended.

They are currently removing the shuttle floors, and will be reconfiguring to hold ARES I. This tower is one of a pair that make a familiar part of the Huntsville skyline. Until recent years, it was the tallest structure in Alabama. The view from the top is awe inspiring.

The crane on top, as seen from the roof:

Looking down from the roof, through the open door.

At the level of the door threshold, looking up at the roof crane.

Looking across the door opening. Looks like the door is 7 floors tall. Here you can see that the bottom of the doorway is still pretty high above the ground.

Looking up, you see the side of the test stand, then the door slid down, then the door opening, and the cranes on top.

A shot from the inside, looking at the layers of walkways.

Looking down through a shuttle-shaped hole.

Imagine slipping a shuttle, nose first, down through this hole.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Surface Treatment Shop

A sampling of all the surface treatments originally available in the shop. Several have been discontinued due to EPA regulations.

Some baskets for dipping items into the plating baths.

Some of Steve's parts, before surface treat.

And after.

Kind of hard to see, but some of them hanging on a titanium dipping tool. The titanium turned purple in the bath.

Something being dipped in a small bath.

The large baths are a bit scary.

This is an empty one. Amazing how deep it is.

One filled to the top, and bubbling.

More small baths.

The paint booth. Large fans draw the paint down through the grating in the floor. Note the large crane hook in the ceiling, and the garage door at the back.

NASA's Small Sewing Room

Spools of thermal blanket material. Yes, one roll is like those "space blankets" you can buy in a sporting goods store.

A thermal blanket, that became obsolete when the design changed.

Some more examples of thermal blanket work.

The Shop at NASA/MSFC, Huntsville, Bld 4705

Walking towards the big machine shop, which is on the left, you can see a rocket on display in the distance. The building to the right is the "surface treatment" shop.

I just imagine seeing a Saturn V roll out these doors... how cool that must have been.

The neutral buoyancy simulator is attached to the shop. The control room is in the low part of the building.

The buoyancy tank is in this huge building. It is an indoor "swimming pool" large enough to hold a mock-up of the shuttle bay. It was equipped for training the crew for EVA (space walks). There would be one or two suited MSFC employees in the tank, with several scuba divers to assist, for the "dress rehearsals", before the astronauts came and suited up.

Sadly, the facility is now "mothballed". It has "historical landmark" status, so at least it will not be dismantled. Von Broun had a suit, and would go in himself whenever he chose to. Dad says Von Broun would ask Cooper to suit him up, and Cooper would say "I don't know if I have one that will fit you", then he'd go get Von Braun's custom-fit suit. JSC now has their own facility, which is at least partially why this one has been shut down.

Check my other posts for what's inside the shop.

A Variety of Tools

Here are some of the items we saw on the tour. The first is a piece of hardware designed by Brian, I believe.

One of the ceiling cranes, moving over to pick up the above part, and take it to a milling machine for further work.


Following is a new machine they are installing. It has one rotating chuck for holding a part, one large multi-tooled head, and a second head for another tool. It is capable of cutting hexagons, for example, by spinning and maneuvering in unison. I wish it was running, so we could have seen it, but we'd probably only have seen a bunch of coolant spraying the window if it was.

This one cuts with a wire.

And this oddity was electrically burning an elliptical hole into a part, while submurged in a special fluid. Puffs of smoke come up out of the fluid bath as the machine hisses up and down, and smells of solder or "magic smoke". They showed us that drops of water sink to the bottom, and sit beaded up at the bottom of the tank.


Quality: measurement equipment

This lab is filled with a variety of nice measuring tools, on large stone tables.

This is a shadow-graph type machine. It projects an enlarged shadow of complex-shaped parts, like screw threads, so that they may be measured and verified more easily.

I believe this is called a coordinate measurement machine. It touches a part on the table, and records the coordinate. In this way, it maps out a part and can compare it to a solid model of that part, or the coordinates can be converted into a solid model.

Various items used for the above machine.

Cleaning Room

Ok, you're walking through a gigantic shop, complete with its share of metal chips and grease. Then you walk through a door into... a room made of gleaming stainless steel. Pristine, people through glass windows wearing white bunny suits. It was, er, a surprise. This is the place where they micro-clean the already cleaned items, and then measure how clean they got it. The place looks stunning.

This is the "foyer", on the "dirty" side of the door. We did not enter the clean room area.