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    Application of Fracture Mechanics on the Space Shuttle

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    During the design stages of the shuttle orbiter, fracture-mechanics concepts were applied extensively to the highly stressed areas of the structure. This was the first space program to require a comprehensive fracture mechanics approach to prevent structural failures from crack or crack-like defects. As anticipated, some difficult problems were encountered. This paper briefly describes some of them together with the procedure used for fracture control on the orbiter. It is believed that the principles and methods as presented herein can serve as an example of fracture control for aerospace and other industries.


    flaw detection, shot peening, crack propagation, space shuttle, fracture mechanics, nondestructive evaluation, radiographic inspection, Collipriest equation, Paris and Forman equations, crack opening displacement

    Author Information:

    Forman, RG
    Aerospace engineer, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

    Hu, T
    Member of technical staff, Space Transportation and System Group, Rockwell International, Downey, CA

    Committee/Subcommittee: E08.08

    DOI: 10.1520/STP32607S