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  collectSPACE: Messages
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  Making of: Space shuttle heat shield tile

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Author Topic:   Making of: Space shuttle heat shield tile
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-16-2008 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA has taken a series of photos documenting the process by which a space shuttle tile is fabricated. In this case, the thermal barrier being created is from Boeing Replacement Insulation 18, or BRI-18, the strongest material used for the orbiter's heat shield. It is replacing other tiles on areas of the vehicle where impact risk is high, such as the landing gear doors, the wing leading edge and the external tank doors.

In the Tile Shop at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, United Space Alliance machinist Tony Rollins cuts a block of BRI-18 tile.
Rollins trims the BRI-18 block to the desired shape.
Rollins continues checking the tile's shape.
USA technician Damon Petty applies a TUFI coating to the BRI-18 tile shaped by Rollins. The coating produces toughened unipiece fibrous insulation, providing the tile with extremely high impact resistance.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-16-2008 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The BRI-18 tile is ready to be baked at 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit to cure the ceramic coating.
Petty places the tile he coated in the oven.
The tile bakes in a 2,200-degree oven to cure the ceramic coating.
The BRI-18 tile still glows after being baked.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 29337
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-16-2008 10:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As an addendum, this photo, taken by collectSPACE in May, shows some of the BRI-18 tiles installed near the wheel well of Atlantis in preparation for the STS-125 Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission in October.

SpaceAholic
Member

Posts: 3174
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-16-2008 11:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No personal protective gear being used by the individual cutting tile? If that's conventional sawing action (vice some type of heated knife in use) lets hope there is not a Mesothelioma analog affiliated with breathing TPS tile dust.

David Bryant
Member

Posts: 961
From: Norfolk UK
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 07-16-2008 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Bryant   Click Here to Email David Bryant     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a superb series of photographs! Many thanks!

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