Stress Analysis and Testing at the Marshall Space Flight Center to Study Cause and Corrective Action of Space Shuttle External Tank Stringer Failures

Robert Wingate
2012 53rd AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference20th AIAA/ASME/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference14th AIAA   unpublished
After the launch scrub of Space Shuttle mission STS-133 on November 5, 2010, large cracks were discovered in two of the External Tank intertank stringers. The NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, as managing center for the External Tank Project, coordinated the ensuing failure investigation and repair activities with several organizations, including the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. To support the investigation, the Marshall Space Flight Center formed an ad-hoc stress analysis team to complement
more » ... team to complement the efforts of Lockheed Martin. The team undertook six major efforts to analyze or test the structural behavior of the stringers. Extensive finite element modeling was performed to characterize the local stresses in the stringers near the region of failure. Data from a full-scale tanking test and from several subcomponent static load tests were used to confirm the analytical conclusions. The analysis and test activities of the team are summarized. The root cause of the stringer failures and the flight readiness rationale for the repairs that were implemented are discussed. * Aerospace Engineer and Team Lead, AIAA Senior Member.
doi:10.2514/6.2012-1776 fatcat:iqnsjrwjtjbp7n3wnlihccojza