Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 1191–1201 | Cite as

Failure Mode Avoidance of Solid Rocket Motor Pressure Monitoring Joint Seals

  • V. Murugesan
  • P. S. Sreejith
  • A. K. Anilkumar
  • V. Kishorenath
Technical Article---Peer-Reviewed


The sealing joints used for pressure monitoring of solid propellant rocket motors (SRMs) of launch vehicles are very critical, as they are large in number, and leak through any of them is a single point failure mode. Identification of failure modes and its prevention is the key for reliable performance of an SRM. Failure modes are identified and the failure mechanisms of different seals in the pressure monitoring system studied through investigative tests with deliberately induced variations in the design parameters and nonconformance. Systematic analysis is carried out for the proposed designs through a failure mode effects analysis (FMEA), failure modes ranked in accordance with Risk Priority Number (RPN) and reliability of the joints worked out from the data. Design concerns are analyzed, alternate designs explored and innovative design solutions evolved. The effectiveness of the final design is brought out quantitatively by reduced RPN ratings and quantum jump in the reliability. Critical design, process and quality control parameters were identified, and procedures to ensure them evolved for failure mode avoidance.


Failure modes Risk Priority Number (RPN) Solid rocket motor (SRM) Reliability Sealing joints O-ring 



The work is carried out at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and the authors wish to thank Director, VSSC, for the continuous support in carrying out the study and for permitting to publish the paper. The authors thank Dr. O. Vijayan, former Scientist, VSSC, and Dr. Sashibhushan Tiwari, VSSC, for their valuable comments and suggestions.


  1. 1.
    G.P. Sutton, O. Biblarz, Rocket Propulsion Elements, 8th edn. (Wiley, Hoboken, 2010), pp. 435–450Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R.L.B. Pinkus, L.J. Shuman, N.P. Hummon, H. Wolfe, Engineering Ethics, Balancing Cost, Schedule, and Risk-Lessons Learned from the Space Shuttle (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1997), pp. 341–344Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    D.A. Bodekar, III, W.A Foster, NASA/CR-1999-208192, “Structural Stiffness Characteristics of the Solid Rocket Booster Field Joint”, November 1998, pp. 1–13Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    D. Clausing, D.D. Frey, Improving system reliability by failure-mode avoidance including four concept design strategies. Syst. Eng. 8(3), 245–261 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    C.S. Carlson, Case Studies, in Effective FMEAs: Achieving Safe, Reliable, and Economical Products and Processes Using Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (Wiley, Hoboken, 2012), pp. 1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    S. Abbasgholizadeh Rahimi, A. Jamshidi, D. Ait-Kadi, A. Ruiz, Using fuzzy cost-based FMEA, GRA, and profitability theory for minimizing failures at a healthcare diagnosis service. Qual. Reliab. Eng. Int. 31(4), 601–615 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    M. Modarres, M. Kaminskiy, V. Krivtsov, Reliability Engineering and Risk Analysis (CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2010), pp. 191–295Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    V.R. Lalli, Design for Reliability: NASA Preferred Practices for Design and Test, NASA TM106313, Reliability and Maintainability Symposium, January 1994, pp. 1–21Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    N. Xiao, H.-Z. Huang, Y. Li, T. Jin, Multiple failure mode analysis and weighted risk priority evaluation in FMEA. Eng. Fail. Anal. 18, 1162–1170 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    X. Su, Y. Deng, S. Mahadevan, Q. Bao, An improved method for risk evaluation in failure modes and effects analysis of Aircraft engine rotor blades. Eng. Fail. Anal. 26, 164–174 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    J.P. Bentley, Reliability and Quality Engineering (Wiley, Hoboken, 1993), pp. 31–37Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    H.H. Buchter, Industrial Sealing Technology (Wiley, Hoboken, 1979), pp. 87–101Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    NASA SP-8119, Liquid rocket disconnects, couplings, fittings, fixed joints and seals, September 1976, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, pp. 3–71, 101–103Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Parker O-ring Handbook, ORD 5700 (Parker Hannifin Corporation, Cleveland, OH, 2017), pp. 1-1–9-1Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fluid Power Systems, O-rings, Part 1: Inside Diameters, Cross Sections, Tolerances and Size Identification Code, ISO 3601-1-2002 (E) (International Organisation for Standardisation, 2002), pp. 1–7Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Fluid Power Systems, O-rings, Part 2: Housing Dimensions for General Applications, ISO 3601-2-2008 (E) (International Organisation for Standardisation, 2008), pp. 1–43Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Fluid Power Systems, O-rings, Part 3: Quality Acceptance Criteria, ISO 3601-3-2005 (E) (International Organisation for Standardisation, 2005), pp. 1–11Google Scholar

Copyright information

© ASM International 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Murugesan
    • 1
  • P. S. Sreejith
    • 2
  • A. K. Anilkumar
    • 1
  • V. Kishorenath
    • 1
  1. 1.Vikram Sarabhai Space CentreThiruvananthapuramIndia
  2. 2.Cochin University of Science and TechnologyCochinIndia

Personalised recommendations