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back to article Discovery survives feeler gauge disintegration

NASA has proved just how seriously it takes space shuttle safety after technicians "performed a walk down" of Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A to assess the impact on Discovery of a disintegrating feeler gauge. On Tuesday, Kennedy operatives began to "replace the 7-inch quick disconnect seal at space shuttle Discovery’s …

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feeler gauge ?

Had no idea the shuttle had spark plugs

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It is a serious problem

Imagine the embarrasment for the USA if the shuttle does a British Leyland and fails to start on the launch pad, or worse, stalls as they try to engage second gear (just as they rotate downrange that would be).

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Serious problem indeed

Liquid fuel rockets and metal tools have tough love relationship as shown by a well known accident with a Titan II in 1980 (there was even a movie made about it - Disaster At Silo 7)

http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2543

Quote:

On September 18, 1980, at about 6:30 p.m., an airman conducting maintenance on the Titan II missile dropped a wrench socket, which fell about eighty feet before hitting and piercing the skin on the rocket’s first-stage fuel tank, causing it to leak. The commander of the 308th Strategic Missile Wing quickly formed a potential-hazard team, and by 9:00 p.m., the Air Force personnel manning the site were evacuated. About one hour later, Air Force security police began evacuating nearby civilian residents as efforts continued to determine the status of the missile and the fuel leak.

Senior Airman David Livingston and Sergeant Jeff K. Kennedy entered the launch complex early on the morning of September 19 to get readings of airborne fuel concentrations, which they found to be at their maximum. At about 3:00 a.m., the two men returned to the surface to await further instructions. Just as they sat down on the concrete edge of the access portal, the missile exploded, blowing the 740-ton launch duct closure door 200 feet into the air and some 600 feet northeast of the launch complex. The W-53 nuclear warhead landed about 100 feet from the launch complex’s entry gate; its safety features operated correctly and prevented any loss of radioactive material. Kennedy, his leg broken, was blown 150 feet from the silo. Livingston lay amid the rubble of the launch duct for some time before security personnel located and evacuated him. Livingston died of his injuries that day. Twenty-one people were injured by the explosion or during rescue efforts.

Unquote:

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Coffee/keyboard

@The Cube

"stalls as they try to engage second gear"

Sorry, that comment made me spit my sandwich halfway across the office, and some very strange looks received - thank you for that :-) But more because I heard the grinding of the gearbox in my head.

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You must be thinking of ...

... the Allegro. What a useless contraption.

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Dumbing down

Ya ok, I think we all know what a 'feeler gauge' is thank you, even me! The same tool that is used to check the gap on spark plug electrodes, I was going to say it wasn't 'rocket science' but maybe it is now :) Anyway why such a big deal? What else are you going to use to check gaps accurately? To be fair these are procession tools not just 'thin pieces of metal held together by a screw'.

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Procession

Precision?

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Headmaster

"13 pieces of metal about the thickness of a piece of paper..."

Er, that's not a feeler gauge, that's a set of feeler gauges. A single feeler gauge is one piece of it.

All the ones I've used have been rivetted together to ensure they don't fall apart. Presumably having the lot drop onto the floor next to the shuttle is rather less serious than having a selection of metal pieces drop down the pushrod tubes into your engine's tappet chest.

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Coat

well yes but

You're thinking of the common or garden variety, engineering feelers generally have a screw so you can take them apart. Handy at times when you dont want the whole set hanging on the indvidual 'finger'

Mines the greasy shop coat with the old holborn tin in one pocket and the other half full of blue hot steel milling chips owwwwww.

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Feeler Gauges

Also if they are screwed together you can arrange several adjacent to each other to use as custom sized gauge.

PS: we need a light bulb icon for those eureka moments.

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you

are forgetting NASA policy here

If we name them precision thin pieces of metal held together by a screw, we can charge $250 per gauge, oppossed to nipping down to home depot and buying a $7.50 set

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Coat

seriously non-geek comentards

Feeler gauges are those things used for setting the head gap on a dot matrix printer.

Bzzzzzzzzzzt clunk Bzzzzzzzzt clunk,

Spark plugs? Bah!

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