By Peter Holderith, May 25, 2020.
Original Article for TheDrive.com >
Oh, your pickup has a lift? That’s cute.
You need to get 500 tons of supplies from Fairbanks, Alaska to the Arctic Ocean—a journey of about 400 miles through pure wilderness. There are no roads, very few airstrips, and endless ice. You’re going to have to withstand minus 68 degree temperatures. Also, nuclear armageddon is on the menu if you’re not quick about it.
You, my friend, need a LeTourneau land train.
The DEW Line
By 1954, with the Cold War well underway, the U.S. government realized the quickest way to get a nuclear bomber from Russia to America was to go right over the Arctic Circle. If we wanted any chance of preventing a nuclear apocalypse, we needed to know if Soviet bombers were crossing the North Pole as soon as possible. The Army planned to build 63 manned radar stations in the high Arctic around the 69th parallel (200 miles north of the Arctic circle) as a result. And to transport all the necessary material that far north, it would have to get creative.
Working together, Canadian and American governments determined they would need about 500 tons of materials to construct all of these outposts. With no suitable runways or ports and heavy lift helicopters still in their infancy, it would all have to be hauled in over land. The task of figuring out how exactly to get that done fell to the same company that had been chosen to build the stations themselves—The Western Electric Company, a subsidiary of AT&T.
Solving unsolvable logistics issues wasn’t exactly its forte. But with the help of TRADCOM (U.S. Army Transportation Research and Development Command), it found the one company—more accurately, the one man—that might be able to help.
That’s R. G. LeTourneau To You
Born in 1888, Robert Gilmore LeTourneau was an inventor of heavy machinery. In WWII, 70 percent of the Allies’ earthmoving equipment was created by LeTourneau Technologies, Inc. Having very little formal education, LeTourneau began his working career as an ironmonger. By the time he died in 1969 he was tremendously wealthy and personally held nearly 300 patents. He is buried on the campus of the University he founded in his name, where his gravestone reads “MOVER OF MEN AND MOUNTAINS.” Just a little character development for you.
LeTourneau had spent the early 1950s perfecting a sort of diesel-electric drivetrain for multi-wheeled heavy-machinery. The system—somewhat similar in concept to the sort used on many locomotives—used a combustion engine to spin an electric generator. This generator would send its power to hub motors mounted to each wheel of the vehicle, allowing for multi-wheel-drive without differentials, driveshafts, or the drivetrain losses associated with them.
This powertrain setup will sound familiar to anyone who read our story on the doomed Antarctic Snow Cruiser earlier this month. But LeTourneau’s design was clearly a generation ahead of Thomas Poulter’s hub motors, which weren’t geared properly to handle anything beyond a gentle incline.
The VC-12 Tournatrain
LeTourneau originally applied this technology to scrapers and graders, but realizing the scalability of such a system, he soon moved beyond just earthmoving. In 1953, he dreamed up the first trackless land train to assist logging operations, the VC-12—a four-wheeled control cab with a 500-horsepower Cummins diesel connected to a generator, pulling three cargo trailers on giant, rugged tires, all of which were powered by hub motors to make it a true 16-wheel-drive vehicle. It was brutally ugly, but critically, it worked.
Developed to haul lumber out of forests over rough terrain, the VC-12 had a hauling capacity of 140 tons. A second version saw LeTourneau add three more cargo trailers and another control cab out back with a second Cummins diesel, much like a real train would be set up with multiple locomotives. TRADCOM caught wind of the project and asked for a demonstration.
TRADCOM came away impressed. This would be the vehicle to help engineers build up the DEW Line, or at least a version of it. The government decided to pay for the construction of a prototype control cabin built by LeTourneau and designed specifically for Arctic conditions. The result? The TC-264 Sno-Buggy—and, incidentally, monster trucks.
Entering the Arctic With a Giant Machine
The Sno-Buggy had a single, 28-liter Allison V-1710 V12, the same engine used in many American fighter aircraft during WWII including Lockheed’s P-38 Lightning. In this application, it ran on butane and powered a generator, which in turn sent the juice to four hub motors, each spinning two massive 10-foot-diameter wheels. There was no suspension system; any cushioning was provided by the low-pressure tires instead.
Speaking of those huge wheels, four of them eventually made their way to the iconic Bigfoot monster truck (Bigfoot IV and V, to be exact) in the 1980s after owner Bob Chandler bought them from a Seattle-area junkyard for $1,000.
The Sno-buggy had an exceptionally large contact area on the ground, which allowed it to spread its weight over the soft snow and ice. As a result it excelled when tested in Greenland in 1954, and both the U.S. Army and Alaska Freightlines (the Seattle-based company Western Electric contracted to transport their freight north) were impressed enough to order a pair of overland trains. Alaska Freightlines’ rig was the first to be completed, dubbed the VC-22 Sno-Freighter.
Two Trains to Send North
The VC-22 was quickly assembled in a little more than a month. This is impressive considering it was one of the longest (if not the longest) off-road vehicle ever built at the time, with its six cars (including the locomotive) measuring a total of 274 feet. Each car had four driven wheels, resulting in 24-wheel-drive courtesy of two 400 horsepower Cummins diesel engines and the now-familiar hub motor setup. It had a payload capacity of 150 tons.
Thanks to its 7.3-foot-tall wheels and tires, it could traverse nearly any terrain. It had a very successful first season hauling freight to the DEW Line, but a year later it jackknifed and a fire started in the engine room that rendered it inoperable. Soon after, Alaska Freightlines’ contract with Western Electric ended and the VC-22 was hauled out of Canada and left on the side of a highway in central Alaska, where it remains to this day.
Seriously, it’s visible in both Google Maps satellite images and the Street View perspective from Steese Highway outside Fox, Alaska. See for yourself.
Sometime after the VC-22 was completed, the Army’s more complex machine was also finished. Donning the same 10-foot wheels as the Sno-Buggy that impressed officials, the so-called LCC-1 had four cars including an articulating locomotive at the front. Its 600-hp diesel engine sent power to all sixteen wheels, and it was capable of hauling 45 tons.
This machine led a much longer and more successful life than the VC-22. Dispatched to Greenland, it hauled cargo all over the region from 1956-1962. But it too was eventually abandoned in an Alaska salvage yard before being rescued and put on display at the Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse, Canada, where it’s also visible from space on Google Maps.
It might not sound like it, but the Army was very impressed with the LCC-1’s capabilities. So in 1958, officials commissioned the construction of its successor, the longest off-road vehicle ever and LeTourneau’s final triumph: the TC-497 Overland Train Mark II.
LeTourneau’s Gas Turbine Land Train
The TC-497 is a truly remarkable feat of engineering. Capable of hauling 150 tons at 20 mph for nearly 400 miles (this range could be extended by carrying extra fuel cars), it was powered by four 1,170-hp gas turbine engines. Only one of these engines was in the locomotive, with the other three were housed in their own separate cars. It retained the hub motor system from previous overland trains as well, meaning all 54 wheels on the vehicle were powered.
But unlike on LeTourneau’s other land trains, the trailers were also steerable, so the turning radius (which was formerly something like a quarter mile) was now much tighter, as seen in the image above.
The locomotive itself was massive at over 30 feet tall, but its size belied the fact that the smaller gas turbine engines allowed LeTourneau to add living quarters as well. The inside of the locomotive could sleep six and had a complete galley and bathroom. The train’s total length? 570 feet—nearly two football fields. And due to the train’s modular construction, the max length was theoretically infinite. As many power cars as were necessary could be added, along with the fuel to keep them running.
The TC-497 was tested by the Army in 1962 at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. The results were once again impressive—but so were simultaneous advances in heavy-lift helicopters like the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe, a fleet of which could accomplish what the TC-497 promised with a fraction of the time and effort. The time of solving a problem like remote logistics with a massive, almost cartoonish machine like an overland train was over.
In the end, the TC-497 was also abandoned. It sat intact in Arizona for almost a decade before its trailers were scrapped; today only the cab survives, still baking in the desert sun and collecting dust. An unfitting end to one of the largest land vehicles ever made.
Rush and emergency work have been in our DNA for a long time. The supply chain delivering the world’s goods can be interrupted, as we are seeing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Chicago Nut & Bolt has been keeping manufacturing lines running and products shipping for a long time. We can accommodate emergency and rush custom orders overnight or within a few hours.
As soon as our CNB representative or engineer receives your request and specifications though fax or email, pricing as well as delivery information is sent within minutes. The person who takes your order tracks the entire production schedule from production to packaging and final shipment. Finding a supplier that will produce your custom part is hard, but we are a company that can have your part ready just when you need it.
We are operating at full capacity.
The Department of Homeland Security has deemed that Chicago Nut & Bolt falls within the Critical Manufacturing Infrastructure Sector. As a business which falls within these guidelines, we’ll continue to operate despite any Nationally or State ordered quarantine.
We qualify under several of the designated categories, as we support the following categories: Earth moving, Mining, Agricultural, and Construction Equipment / Locomotive, Railroads & Transit Cars, and Rail Track Equipment.
At this time we will continue normal business hours.
Here’s an interesting article regarding the use of custom marine fasteners in boats fighting the Australian fires. We hope and pray for success for our Aussie friends.
1.27.2020 See Original Article >
Putting out fires depends on two things. Firstly, the capability of the fire fighting equipment and the second is the volume of water available to douse the fire!
These land base firefighters are testing Aussie’s Sea Skipper on estuary seawater on Victoria’s coastline. Loads of flow, high pressure, and lightweight convenience.
Fires at sea are a massive problem with the capability of the equipment available being a key factor. Certainly, there is no issue with availability of water. It’s only about the equipment being lightweight enough to be able to move and being seawater compatible!
One Australian company has moved towards solving this issue. Australian Pump, based in Sydney, has developed a range of high pressure, seawater compatible fire pumps. Called the ‘Sea Skipper’ range, the pumps star is a new high pressure 3” pump powered by a Yanmar 10hp electric start diesel engine.
“The most important thing about this development is the ability of the pump to produce the high volumes of water at high pressure”, said Aussie’s Chief Engineer, John Hales.
For example, the pump can deliver 150 litres of water per minute at 80 metres head (105 psi). The pump can also be used as a salvage pump with flows of up to 450 lpm at 20 metres head.
Self priming in design, the 3” twin impeller pump owes its unique capacity to the pump’s hydraulics. “When we designed this pump, we started out with a 3” high volume design and then worked on changing the configuration on the internals into a high pressure performance as well”, said Hales.
The machine’s compatibility to saltwater is a simple solution. Impellers and volutes are manufactured from bronze, whilst the body of the pump and other key components are marine grade aluminium, coated with a seawater resistant epoxy coating both inside and out. The pump also is fitted with a sacrificial anode and stainless steel fasteners throughout.
“For some Navies of the world, we build these with stainless steel frames but the standard is a heavy duty galvanised frame with sub base and anti-vibration mounts”, said Hales. The inlet and outlet are 3” BSP male threads compatible with Camlocks or Storz adaptors.
Designed originally for the Royal Australian Navy, these pumps are now being used by firefighters in Australia’s terrible horrific bushfire season over the Christmas period.
“Firefighters keep running out of water when they’re trying to douse bushfires but, if they approach it from estuaries or even from the sea, from a trawler, pleasure boat or barge, they’re able to perform in a very competent manner. There’s only three things that count in a fire at sea, that’s capability, capability, capability.”, said Hales.
“Having pumps that are too heavy to move around or not able to perform is a waste of time and money. Pumps that are designed for fresh water instead of seawater also will never go the distance”, he said.
Part 1: A Fastener-Ating Look At The Bolts And Studs That Hold Your Engine Together—We’d Really Be Screwed Without Them!
Bolts, nuts, and washers: They’re what keeps your engine, drivetrain, chassis—heck, the entire car—together. Fasteners are the linchpin for a successful build—but how much attention do you really pay to them? Sure, we want our nuts and bolts to look pretty and not rust, but they’re much more than just another pretty face! Failure of a single critical engine or chassis fastener can cost you tens of thousands of bucks, due to a destroyed engine, or even an entire car. Yet with proper selection and installation practices, you can virtually eliminate fastener failure. Over the next few months, we’re going to take a granular look at today’s fastener technology with the help of Chris Raschke and the Automotive Racing Products (ARP) crew. Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last 20 years, you know that the good folks at ARP have risen to become the dominant force in supplying bulletproof fasteners for just about every hot rod and motorsport application. In this installment, we’ll look at fasteners retained primarily in tension, concentrating on those used to hold your engine together. What are their unique materials and characteristics, how are they made, and how do you properly install them? Go to Original Article >
Airbus just got some unwelcome pushback from the Luftwaffe.
On Wednesday, it emerged that the German air force had rejected delivery of two of the European plane-building consortium’s A400M military transporters, of which it already has 31, with another 20 also yet to be delivered. The reason: technical issues, including a problem with the bolts holding the propellers onto the craft.
The bolt issue is arguably not that major in itself—due to insufficient tightening, the bolts can become loose during rare high-g maneuvers, potentially leading to structural damage but not causing the propellors to fall off. A day’s work on each plane will fix the issue, a spokesperson for the Luftwaffe told Fortune.
However, the problem adds to a long list of issues with the A400M. The transport aircraft is Europe’s shot at avoiding reliance on the products of American manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Boeing. But since its inception in 2003 it has been plagued with heavy delays, cost overruns requiring $4.3 billion in bailouts from European governments, and technical faults.
The first deliveries of the A400M were supposed to take place in 2009 but only occurred four years later (to France)—the delays caused arguments between Airbus and NATO and led the consortium to report around $9.3 billion in charges overall. Four Spanish crew members died in a 2015 test-flight crash that was down to a software fault. More recently, Airbus has also had to deal with problems with the plane’s engines, propellers and propeller gear boxes.
“This is certainly a bad look for Airbus after a long line of technical faults and delays,” said Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the U.K.’s Royal United Services Institute. “It remains to be seen whether this particular fault is replicated in other users’ fleets, but serviceability remains a concern for many.”
According to Germany’s Der Spiegel, which first reported the Luftwaffe’s rejection of the two transporters, the bolt issue first manifested in a French A400M, leading Airbus to advise its customers to inspect their craft.
“The issue, already communicated to all our customers… is not safety critical and our customers continue to accept and operate their aircraft,” Airbus said in a statement. “Airbus has made great progress so far over this year to meet our customer requirements and the agreed capability roadmap. We continue to work closely with all our customers on those matters.”
The A400M’s issues “pale into insignificance” when compared with those that have plagued Boeing’s KC-46 military transporter, said Mal Craghill, a former commander of the U.K.’s Air Warfare School. “It is not uncommon for new aircraft types to encounter teething problems,” he said.
“I suspect the German move is just to ratchet up the pressure on Airbus to get the engine problems fixed more quickly. I’m not aware of Germany mounting any significant operations at the moment, so now is as good a time as any to highlight the issues,” said Craghill.
Europe’s air forces do not entirely rely on the A400M; as Craghill noted, they still have many Lockheed C-130 and Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft in service.
Nonetheless, said Bronk, “this issue as with others that have dogged the programme will be sorted—the A400M is too important to too many air forces to be allowed to fail now.”
“It is also important to remember that when the aircraft is working as intended, it performs extremely well and offers a unique and valuable mix of capabilities to the Luftwaffe and other operators,” Bronk added.
By Nimeka de Silva and Patrik Lundström Törnquist – November 24,2019 See original article >
The global cost of corrosion exceeds US$2.5 trillion annually, or three percent of global GDP. Moreover, the environmental consequences are enormous. Innovative premium high-strength and high-performance stainless steel fasteners offer significant benefits – from product and asset infrastructure maintenance to total lifecycle costs – in many global industry sectors.
Metallic corrosion is the result of electro-chemical interaction between a metal and substances present within its operating environment. Corrosion results in degradation of that material, to the point where it is no longer mechanically or structurally fit for purpose. Corrosion presents a formidable global challenge. It affects many everyday products and almost all infrastructure – through increased maintenance, shorter product lifecycles, end-of-life management and generally the overall utilization of more resources over a product’s lifetime.
The economic and environmental impact is significant, and it is high time to place the fight against corrosion in a proper sustainability context.
The International Measures of Prevention, Application and Economics of Corrosion Technology (IMPACT) study by NACE estimates the global cost of corrosion to be US$ 2.5 trillion annually – equivalent to around three per cent of global GDP in 2018. However, it also estimates that existing corrosion control practices could save 15-35 percent of the cost of corrosion, equating to between US$ 375 and US$ 875 billion globally each year (NACE International, 2016).
Corrosion impacts heavily on the environment
The consequences of corrosion-related impacts on the environment are not included in this study but are increasingly important. In response to greater interest in issues related to environmental impact and sustainability, engineers are ever more encouraged to design products and infrastructure that can minimize negative environmental and societal impact. Sustainability in design, optimizing a product’s lifecycle, minimizing maintenance requirements and end-of-life upcycling/recycling for example are all becoming an important part of product performance, quality and overall cost.
In future, it is very likely that we will see even more burden placed on product manufacturers and asset infrastructure owners towards end-of-life management, so making early considerations in the design and planning stage will become a more crucial aspect of engineering. Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) are becoming ever more important for any product or project from both a customer and regulator perspective.
More robust and cost-effective fastener solutions
Stainless steel fasteners have long been used in corrosive environments, such as within the oil & gas industry, chemical processing, marine and coastal applications. In recent years, stainless steel materials, predominantly austenitic grades A2 (304) and A4 (316), have become more readily available, largely due to low-cost high-volume Asian manufacturers.
However, interest in premium stainless steel and high-grade alloy fasteners has really taken off. Within the correct application, they offer improved product performance, reduced maintenance and can help to maximize the product lifecycle. Considering total lifecycle costs can help to deliver significant cost efficiencies over the lifespan of a product, rather than an approach focusing purely on the initial upfront cost.
Particularly in more technical industries where performance, safety and reliability are all critical factors, engineers are now starting to give more consideration to an ever-increasing range of fastener products and material options available to them, in an attempt to design more robust and long-term cost-effective products and infrastructure.
Traditional fastener challenges for engineers
One of the traditional limitations accepted by engineers when considering the use of stainless steel materials, is reduced mechanical strength compared with high tensile carbon steel. If a combination of high strength and corrosion resistance was required, then engineers may often resort to the use of high tensile carbon steel with an additional protective coating.
However, high tensile carbon steel brings with it the burden of finding a coating suitable for the application and the associated performance, quality and lifespan considerations for the coating. High tensile carbon steels are also prone to the risk of hydrogen embrittlement as a result of their manufacturing process. Engineers often express concerns regarding this risk and careful consideration should always be given during their production.
The solution – corrosion resistance and high strength
Enter premium high corrosion-resistance stainless steel fasteners. These are products that combine the corrosion resistance capabilities of different stainless steel material grades, with the strength of high tensile carbon steel (such as the BUMAX DX 129 range). In addition, ductility and fatigue properties are also considerably better, outperforming high tensile carbon steel. By eliminating the limitations of strength in stainless steel materials, these premium fasteners open up new possibilities for design engineers that require a combination of high mechanical performance and corrosion resistance.
Applications for these premium stainless steel fasteners include aerospace, offshore equipment, steel construction, high-end electric bikes, high pressure applications, fueling systems and semiconductor manufacturing equipment – all with excellent results. Many more applications may follow, to the benefit of not only the owners and users of products and infrastructure – with higher quality, reduced maintenance and longer lifespans – but also the entire planet with the potential for the more sustainable use of material resources.
As the Golden Gate Bridge was being built, Joseph Strauss, the chief engineer, was often asked: How long will the bridge last? His answer was always the same.
“Forever,” he said.
The famous span turns 80 on Saturday, not quite forever, but nearly a lifetime. And how long the bridge lasts depends on a small army of painters, ironworkers, electricians and engineers whose job over the years has taken them to the top and the bottom of the towers and everywhere else on the bridge.
Currently, the Golden Gate Bridge employs 32 painters, five painter laborers, 19 ironworkers, and three ironworker foremen, called “pushers” in the trade. A superintendent is in overall charge.
Though the painters are the most visible of the maintenance crew, it’s the ironworkers, who walk the high steel and build the scaffolding for the painters, who capture the public imagination.
“We have a nickname. They call us Sky Cowboys,” said Phillip Chaney, 57, the ironworker superintendent.
Their job is to replace rusting rivets with bolts, to build scaffolding for the painters and to make sure the bridge is sound.
“The paint protects the steel, but it’s the steel that holds up the bridge,” Chaney said.
“We have a corner office with a view,” said Darren McVeigh, 51, a second-generation ironworker who has been with the Golden Gate Bridge for 15 years and in the trade since 1982.
It’s “rough and dirty work,” McVeigh said, but it’s a good job.
Ironworkers report at 6:30 in the morning and are off by 3. It’s a union job, and the pay is good: $41.53 an hour, according to bridge district figures. It takes a four-year apprenticeship to become a journeyman, and Golden Gate work is especially prized in the trade: Bridge workers get 13 paid holidays, plus vacation.
In other jobs, McVeigh said, “When you don’t work, you don’t get paid.”
On the other hand, working on the Golden Gate presents special problems. The bridge crosses a strait on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, and the strait is famous for its wind and fog.
“Sometimes it cuts through you like a knife,” McVeigh said. “It’s brutal, just brutal. At the end of the day, all you can do is stand under a hot shower.”
The moisture from the fog and rain also add an element of danger to the work because it makes the steel slippery.
No one can be an ironworker who has a fear of heights, but the trade requires a finely honed sense of caution.
“You know the saying: ‘One hand for the company and one hand for yourself,’” McVeigh said.
All ironworkers on the bridge are required to wear a harness — 100 percent tie-off they call it — but there’s a trade-off. With layers of clothing on a chilly day, a body harness and a tool belt, ironworkers look like bears up on the steel. It makes it harder to move, to work.
Though 11 workers were killed during construction, there have been only two fatal accidents involving bridge crews in the past 80 years. In 1970, a painter fell to his death, and in 2003 an ironworker in the employ of a contractor died in an accident during a seismic retrofit project.
And there are also injuries, especially working with steel beams and building scaffolding.
“You get hand smashes and eye injuries, back injuries, bad knees,” McVeigh said.
They also face death, especially when someone is threatening suicide. Bridge workers are trained to intervene and will go to the railing to try to stop someone from jumping. “We put on a harness and tie-off so if they go, we are not going to go with them,” McVeigh said.
Like the others, he has talked some would-be jumpers off the edge. “I’ve lost count,” he said. “Maybe a dozen.”
In the next few years, a suicide barrier will be strung under the deck. The work won’t be done by in-house ironworkers, but by ironworkers hired by the contractors for the job.
The ironworkers’ main work at the bridge is keeping it standing. “There’s an old saying,” McVeigh said. “Rust never rests.”
Chaney points to a long color-coded chart in an engineering office near the toll plaza. It’s a conceptual printout of the bridge, showing the results of regular inspections: green for good steel, yellow for caution, red for problems.
Last year, the ironworkers spent a lot of time replacing some of the 600,000 rivets in the Marin tower. Rusted rivets are removed by a device called a “rivet buster” and are replaced with steel bolts.
Most of this year is devoted to building stages — “dance floors,” they are called — under the roadway deck, so old paint and some steel can be replaced. The stages are surrounded by tent-like structures that keep the old paint and debris from falling into the water.
It takes months to build the stages and the tenting, careful work done under the roadway. It’s not as dramatic as high work on the 746-foot-tall towers, but just as important.
There are other jobs, too. “I have guys working on greasing the bearings on the deck,” Chaney said. Like all suspension spans, the Golden Gate Bridge moves with the weight of traffic and with the wind. The steel moves. “You don’t want a stiff structure,” he said.
After the stages are done, the next big job will be to work on the San Francisco tower, where the effects of wind and rain have left the tower looking a bit shabby, as if it needs a new paint job. “It’s structurally sound,” Chaney said, “but not aesthetically.”
Not everybody can work on what may well be the most famous bridge in the world. Like others on the bridge, McVeigh is proud of it.
“When you are driving to work and see it in the windshield,” he said, “you say to yourself: ‘Wow! Look at this thing!’”
A quiet anniversary
It will be a quiet birthday Saturday when the Golden Gate Bridge turns 80.
Instead, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District is inviting the public to post personal stories about the bridge on the bridge’s Facebook page and to Twitter @goldengatebridge, hashtag #GGB80 and #MyGGBstory.
The idea, the district says, is to “allow visitors from all over the world to join the fun.”
On the bridge’s 50th anniversary, in 1987, as many as 300,000 people walked on the bridge, causing the arch in the main span to flatten. The bridge staged an elaborate fireworks display on its 75th, in 2012. See Original Article >
Original Article for CNET BY AMANDA KOOSER MAY 4, 2018 5:34 PM PDT
Building a next-generation space telescope isn’t easy. NASA’s James Webb telescope will replace the famous Hubble telescope someday, but the delayed observatory project is feeling a little shaken at the moment.
NASA is testing the telescope’s spacecraft element to make sure it can survive launch and a harsh life out in space. The spacecraft consists of the sunshield and the spacecraft bus, which houses electrical, communication, propulsion and thermal control subsystems, among others.
The space agency subjected the spacecraft to routine mechanical shock and acoustic vibration tests, which loosened some of the hardware holding the sunshield membrane cover in place. The loose hardware was an assortment of screws and washers, as noted by SpaceNews.
NASA says this sort of issue isn’t uncommon during testing for complex spacecraft, but the observatory is under extra scrutiny due to the high profile of the project and its $8 billion price tag.
“NASA is reviewing options for repair and the next steps in spacecraft element launch environment testing,” said Greg Robinson, Webb’s program director.
The telescope has been beset with a series of technical issues and recently had its projected launch date pushed back to 2020, though some critical pieces of the telescope project successfully made it through cryogenic testing earlier this year.
It’s good to keep in mind that Hubble, an ultimately triumphant project, was originally expected to launch in the early 1980s, but actually got off the ground in 1990 and still required a series of servicing missions later on.
While the Webb telescope may be facing a minor setback due to the loose hardware, it’s better to figure it out on the ground and fix it than have it happen in space. View Original Article >