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  [SLS] New flame trench for KSC Launch Pad 39B

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Author Topic:   [SLS] New flame trench for KSC Launch Pad 39B
mode1charlie
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Posts: 446
From: Honolulu, HI, USA
Registered: Sep 2010

posted 06-25-2013 07:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I'd heard that this was in the offing, International Space Fellowship is reporting that upgrades to Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida have commenced in order to support future planned SLS and commercial launches.
At launch pad B, construction workers are removing the legacy flame deflector that sits below and between the left and right pad surface crawlerway track panels, along with Apollo-era bricks from both walls of the flame trench. A contract to perform the work was awarded earlier this year to Vanguard Contractors in Paducah, Ky.

"A new universal flame deflector is being designed that will support NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and a variety of other commercial launch vehicles," said Jose Perez Morales, the Pad Element project manager in the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program. "The bricks will be removed due to their age and because they are debonding from the flame trench structure."

...the firm Reynolds, Smith and Hills, with offices in Merritt Island, is designing the new flame deflector and the refurbishment of the flame trench. The design review currently is at the 30 percent phase.

"The goal is to create a deflector design that will be less costly to construct and more efficient," Vu said.

The new flame deflector and flame trench designs are schedule to be completed in early 2014. The construction of the flame trench and deflector is scheduled to start in early 2015.

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2046
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 06-25-2013 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How long before some of the "Apollo era bricks" appear on eBay? Can't you just see the item description?
This historic brick was blasted by the flames from Neil Armstrong's mighty Saturn V...
Any bids?

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27612
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-25-2013 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just like the asbestos-laden refractory bricks that were blasted out of Pad 39A's flame trench by the launch of STS-124, the deflector's material is considered toxic and is being disposed of accordingly.

In these photos, you can see the construction workers are wearing protective gear.

Work is also proceeding at Pad 39B to inspect and repair the surface beneath the crawler track panels for water damage.

star61
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Posts: 261
From: Bristol UK
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 06-26-2013 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Talk about cut backs in the NASA budget! I see they are using the Gemini 10 spanner again...

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 06-26-2013 07:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's annoying to me that they're considering these bricks in the same category as plutonium, yet letting a private contractor just walk off with them.

I know for sure that some of these bricks are in the hands of some NASA people, I saw one on the desk of someone I worked with on a counter-terrorism exercise once. That one was sealed in a thin coat of lucite or something like that. There's no reason they couldn't do the same with bricks broken up into sections for public sale. For that matter, you could cut down to a small 'core' of each, which I'd highly doubt was contaminated by even the nastiest fumes that hit them over the years. Heck, I've handled plenty of items in my short military career that were exposed to truly horrible chemicals and later decontaminated. We're talking stuff that was designed to kill people, and all that was cleaned up effectively.

Sure, there's a hazard for having debris from either the bricks or the tower (which also got broken up with no chance for the public to get on it), but I've seen some of this material (as well as melted sand-glass from the Trinity site of the first nuclear detonation) handed to those in panelled government offices. It's very galling to hear the public can't get in on items that instead must be utterly destroyed, yet GS-level folks with a high enough number can pick up a phone and ask for the ultimate paperweight. And you know those things don't stay in the office when these folks retire...

Really, how much would any of us pay for even a small part of one of those bricks? Quite a bit, I'd imagine...

Ross
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Posts: 378
From: Australia
Registered: Jul 2003

posted 06-27-2013 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ross   Click Here to Email Ross     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As mentioned above, the problem may be what the bricks are actually made of rather than just what they are contaminated with. If they contain asbestos then they can't be decontaminated, just destroyed. While sealing them in an appropriate material would seem to be the answer, there is no guarantee that long term use or abuse might expose the asbestos. It is believed that even one fiber can cause lung disease. We are in the middle of an asbestos scare in Australia. No government can afford to take the chance.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27612
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-27-2013 09:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
There's no reason they couldn't do the same with bricks broken up into sections for public sale.
There are, in fact, two reasons: money and liability.

NASA's outreach budget has been frozen (if not also cut) and for a contractor to reap the benefit of such, it would need a wide market, as the initial handling costs alone would be high on account of the hazardous materials.

And that brings us to the second reason, it would take just one person to get sick and sue — even if was just an unfounded nuisance lawsuit — to make the whole project not worth the money or time invested.

Just like the space shuttle tiles, the easiest, least expensive and safest route for NASA is destruction.

(I advocated and in fact, was successful in swaying NASA to archive 100 of the refractory bricks from Pad 39A for later distribution to museums. Even then, the agency didn't have the resources to encase them for safe display and so they wait.)

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2046
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 06-27-2013 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder how many asbestos-laden blocks from the Berlin Wall are sitting on desks or display shelves around the world?

Jim Behling
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Posts: 572
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 06-27-2013 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a difference in structural bricks and bricks in a flame trench. One of them being asbestos.

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2046
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 06-28-2013 01:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What's your point? People hacked souvenir lumps out of the Berlin Wall. That material contains asbestos. Fire-bricks from the Pad 39 flame-trenches contain asbestos. Asbestos material is not an ideal souvenir.

xlsteve
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Posts: 368
From: Holbrook MA, USA
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 06-28-2013 02:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for xlsteve   Click Here to Email xlsteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A bit off topic, but I think you'll find that only the round tubes on the top of the wall were made of asbestos. I'm not sure the German government could have exerted much control over the dismantling of the wall by souvenir hunters during unification. The US government can't knowingly distribute material they know to be harmful.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27612
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-03-2013 07:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA photos showing the progress in the Pad 39B flame trench as of Aug. 28:

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27612
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-03-2013 07:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA photos showing the progress in the Pad 39B flame trench as of Aug. 28:

All times are CT (US)

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