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Space Shuttle Columbia Post-Accident Analysis and Investigation

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Abstract

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/1,038 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.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/1-4020-4972-2_7
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References

  1. Cummings, V. J., XPS, Metallographic and SEM X-Ray elemental Dot Map Analysis of STS-107 Debris Sample 24543-1, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, KSC-MSL-2003-149, 2003.

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  2. Parker, D. S., Optical and SEM/EDS Analysis of STS-107 Debris Sample 58693-1, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, KSC-MSL-2003-208, 2003.

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© 2006 Springer

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McDanels, S. (2006). Space Shuttle Columbia Post-Accident Analysis and Investigation. In: Gdoutos, E.E. (eds) Fracture of Nano and Engineering Materials and Structures. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-4972-2_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-4972-2_7

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4020-4971-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4020-4972-9

  • eBook Packages: EngineeringEngineering (R0)