Space Shuttle Columbia Post-Accident Analysis and Investigation
- McDanels, Steven J.
- June 30, 2006.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
- Although the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and its crew was tragic, the circumstances offered a unique opportunity to examine a multitude of components which had experienced one of the harshest environments ever encountered by engineered materials: a break up at a velocity in excess of Mach 18 and an altitude exceeding 200,000 feet (63 KM), resulting in a debris field 645 miles/l,038 KM long and 10 miles/16 KM wide. Various analytical tools were employed to ascertain the sequence of events leading to the disintegration of the Orbiter and to characterize the features of the debris. The testing and analyses all indicated that a breach in a left wing reinforced carbon/carbon composite leading edge panel was the access point for hot gasses generated during re-entry to penetrate the structure of the vehicle and compromise the integrity of the materials and components in that area of the Shuttle. The analytical and elemental testing utilized such techniques as X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Energy Dispersive X-Ray (EDX) dot mapping, Electron Micro Probe Analysis (EMPA), and X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) to characterize the deposition of intermetallics adjacent to the suspected location of the plasma breach in the leading edge of the left wing, Fig. 1.
- Document ID: 20120003632.
16th European Conference of Fracture; 30 Jun. - 16 Jul. 2006; Alexandopolis; Greece.
- No Copyright.
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