Tag Archives: cracks

The repairs to the cracks in the first Orion capsule have withstood static stress tests.

I’m so glad: The repairs to the cracks in the first Orion capsule have withstood static stress tests.

In addition to the various loads it sustained, the Orion crew module also was pressurized to simulate the effect of the vacuum in space. This simulation allowed engineers to confirm it would hold its pressurization in a vacuum and verify repairs made to superficial cracks in the vehicle’s rear bulkhead caused by previous pressure testing in November.

The November test revealed insufficient margin in an area of the bulkhead that was unable to withstand the stress of pressurization. Armed with data from that test, engineers were able to reinforce the design to ensure structural integrity and validate the fix during this week’s test. [emphasis mine]

I love how this NASA press release describes the cracking of the capsule bulkhead during the November testing, indicated in bold. “Insufficient margin”, eh?

Normally I am very forgiving when things fail during engineering tests, but for the bulkhead of this capsule to crack during these tests was actually pretty shameful, considering the decades of engineering work previously done in the building of space capsules and submarines. Things can certainly go wrong when you build something new, but I don’t see anything particularly revolutionary about Orion’s design. Lots of things might fail, but making sure the bulkhead could withstand the normal and well known stresses of spaceflight should not have been one of those things. The bulkhead failure suggests to me some sloppy engineering work took place in Orion’s initial design.

Lockheed Martin will begin intensive stress tests on its Orion capsule on April 22.

The competition heats up: Lockheed Martin will begin intensive stress tests on its Orion capsule on April 22.

Though the article makes no mention of the cracks that had previously been found in that capsule, nor the repair work that was done to fix them, I strongly suspect that these stress tests are aimed at testing these repairs.

Engineers at Lockheed Martin are adding structural braces to fix the cracks found in the first Orion capsule.

Engineers at Lockheed Martin are adding structural braces to fix the cracks found in the first Orion capsule.

Engineers have designed a “doubler” to place over the cracks to ensure the craft can sustain loads from pressure, launch and landing. Geyer said two of the structural aids, similar to devices regularly used on airplanes, could be added to the spacecraft. “We’ve come up with a great plan to basically bridge over those cracks to distribute the load so we don’t see any issues on orbit,” Geyer said.

How reassuring.

The cracks that have been found on the wings of the new Airbus A380 jumbo jet have now been traced to a company in the United Kingdom.

The cracks that have been found on the wings of the new Airbus A380 jumbo jet have now been traced to work done by a company in the United Kingdom.

A senior industry expert told The Times: ‘The issue is around the type of aluminum being used and the fitting which, as a result of the assembly, creates the crack’, with a source close to the problem adding, ‘It is a design and process engineering failure’.

The Russians now say the next manned flight to ISS will be delayed a month, until the end of April, due to defects found in the Soyuz capsule.

The Russians now say the next manned flight to ISS will be delayed a month, until the end of April, due to defects found in the Soyuz capsule.

The story suggests some confusion over what caused the cracks, either defects to the capsule itself or a mistake in the testing process.

A commission set up to probe the setback said violations of the testing procedure caused the damage to the reentry vehicle incident, earlier reports said. Either excessive pressure was applied by the personnel, or the shell of the reentry vehicle had defects or was improperly welded up.

“This re-entry capsule now cannot be used for manned spaceflight.”

“This re-entry capsule now cannot be used for manned spaceflight.”

This postponement of the next two Russian manned missions to ISS looks like a serious problem. For cracks to form in a finished capsule when tested under pressure suggests significant production failures that had gone unnoticed during assembly. In fact, this problem is far more serious than the launch failure that occurred last year. The Russians have to not only find a capsule they can trust to use on the next flight, they have to track down the errors that allowed a capsule to be built that is so obviously flawed it cracked when put in use.

Australian aircraft engineers have called for the grounding of the Airbus A380 – the world’s biggest passenger aircraft – after Singapore Airlines and Qantas found cracks in the wings of several planes.

Is this a story? Australian aircraft engineers have called for the grounding of the Airbus A380 – the world’s biggest passenger aircraft – after Singapore Airlines and Qantas found cracks in the wings of several planes.