Radiator Panels For Space Shuttle Modified At Lockheed Martin
FORT WORTH, Texas, July 1st, 1998 -- To protect against increased particle showers expected in future flights, Lockheed Martin is modifying the radiator panels that fit inside the payload doors of NASA's space shuttles. A substantial part of the task is being performed at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems in a change from the facility's usual dedication to fighter aircraft work.
The work consists of bonding aluminum doublers, which are 0.4 inch wide and 0.020 inch thick, over radiator Freon flow tubes to provide added protection while in space. The doublers are then overlaid with a protective, silver-Teflon tape.
NASA predicts that in the next few years, the space shuttles will be exposed to a substantial increase in particle dust while servicing the International Space Station in Earth orbit. Therefore, protecting the radiator panels becomes critical given the role they play in thermal control of the Shuttle's systems, including the crew compartment.
According to David Johnson, Space Shuttle Program Manager for Lockheed Martin Vought Systems, the first set of panel assemblies has been delivered to the customer, Boeing North American, with a second set scheduled for delivery in August. The first set will be installed on the Orbiter Atlantis, with the second set planned for the Columbia. Eventually, all four space shuttles will have their radiator panels modified, with a fifth set modified as a spare. All modifications are scheduled for completion by September 2000.
Lockheed Martin Vought Systems in Grand Prairie, Texas, is the subcontractor to Boeing North American for the modification work on the panels. Vought receives the panels, removes the existing silver-Teflon tape and attaching hardware, and repairs any impact damage on the panels. They are then sent to Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems in Fort Worth. There, the doublers and silver-Teflon tape are installed on the 10.5 by 15 foot panels, after which they are cured in large autoclaves for eight hours, reaching a maximum temperature of 250F. After return of the radiators to Vought, the attached hardware is reinstalled and each panel subjected to simulated flight environments in a thermal/vacuum chamber acceptance test procedure.
The cures take place in Tactical Aircraft Systems' composites manufacturing center, which also produces more than 200 composite parts for each F-22 aircraft, and is manufacturing co-cured composite wing boxes for Japan's F-2 fighter.
Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant produces the F-16 for the U.S. Air Force and a number of foreign countries and is leading Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter team.