In Discovery Mode

 IASA tracing the wiring inside Shuttle Discovery

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes."
Marcel Proust (1871-1922),
French novelist

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 STS-111 Interactive
 The Second Decade of the Shuttle

    IASA Chairman's Report on NASA Visit

 The STS-111 Launch of Endeavour

   The NASA Wake-Up Call

an internal space-walk in Shuttle Discovery not in space, just suitably garbed for the pristine innards of the Discovery's subterranean crawlways neat, tidy, dust and lint-free, secured wiring bundles with no stressful bend radius
Concertina'd conduit embraces the wiring bundles and allows for the expansion and contraction of the heat extremes in space, particularly in the cargo bay. Perhaps the wire bundles are so neatly laid out and labeled because the astronauts are likely to be very remote from maintenance at the point when they might need it. Landing at the "nearest available" is not an option. Discovery is undergoing a down-time maintenance period of about 20 months - so relax, these loose wires are on a job-card - and a computer and someone qualified will get to them in 2002 or 2003.

If you compared these neatly labeled dust and lint-free conduits and wire-bundles with an aged airliner's innards, you just might notice some differences. It would appear that Shuttle wiring layout is designed to accommodate a visual inspection by wander-light. No it's not the cockpit (or is it?) No consolation prize for noting all the missing consoles.

Hmm? Maybe with all those thermal tiles on the outer skin, they don't need those flammable mylar thermal/acoustic blankets in here? Or maybe they'll come later.... And yes there is much aromatic polyimide insulated wiring here, but NASA knows its vices and ensures that that tiger never gets loose because of installation errors and consequential damage. A place for everything - and everything in its place. Obviously astronauts aren't all pilots and not all astronauts would have an in-depth systems knowledge or trouble-shooting ability. But what's the betting that you could call at least one of them a Flight Engineer and he/she wouldn't object.

Can you think of an extra hazard for wiring in space? How's about a micro-meteorite hit? So I wonder how much redundancy we're looking at here?  Did you know that NASA nearly lost a Shuttle (STS-93 -the first one with a Lady Commander) - due to an undetected wiring flaw? That's when NASA started looking seriously at wiring. On their first run-through they found 64 serious wiring flaws. (see below) So you're up there in Space and you have a wiring-initiated fire. Don space-suits and depressurize? Will that work with an arcing fire, starving the fire of oxygen? Are you sure of your answer? Bet their life on it?

NASA Watch note: The above 5 photos show a  bad wire on the No.1 engine that flew on Columbia on the STS-93 mission.

(see blowup links by clicking thumbnail images in these 5 panels above)

"The 5 individual wire pictures above are not from the new wire damage found (64 cases). They are all from the initial find. The photos with the legend FWD on them are of the segment that actually shorted to the screw head. The photos with the legend AFT were discovered at the same time (about 2-3 inches away from the short) over a screw head on the aft side of the joint that did not short (no arcing noted on the screw head). The new wire damage was in a different area of the payload bay and was thought to be just top-coat damage (the insulation's outside paint). Failure analysis of that wire reported that two layers were removed due to abrasion (rubbing, aka chafeing). Based on all the data and the Criticality of the Main Engines, I strongly believe NASA made the correct and only possible decision to inspect and protect these Power lines going to the Main Engine Controllers prior to flight."

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