Friday, July 20, 2007

O-Ring problem again?

I thought it ironic that the Mission that Barbara Morgan is on there would be an O ring situation.
A NASA team is studying why recent batches of O-rings have a higher-than-usual number of specks of unmixed rubber, similar to bits of flour in a partially mixed bowl of cake batter. If such specks are too large or too close together, they can make the rings stiffer. The specks, detected by X-ray, are about the size of a grain of salt.

On Challenger, the rings were so stiff from cold weather that hot gases escaped from the booster, igniting the fuel.

Accident investigators condemned NASA for indifference to repeated O-ring problems.

By contrast, NASA has done weeks of testing on the latest O-ring issue. Initial tests show the rings with the defects are as strong and resilient as they should be, but more tests will be run through Saturday, says Jody Singer, head of NASA's solid-rocket motor project.

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