[meteorite-list] Space Shuttle Thermal Protection System (TPS)

From: Richard Montgomery <rickmont_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 18:44:38 -0700
Message-ID: <D60F152EB148459CA163BF1AD284B64B_at_bosoheadPC>

Robert, (and to List...)

I am saving this entry, with +++s, into my "good-stuff" folder. Thank you!

Richard M

----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert & Nancy Veilleux" <robnanv at comcast.net>
To: <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5:08 PM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Space Shuttle Thermal Protection System (TPS)

> As a fairly new subscriber to the met-list, and a meteorite(nut)
> collector. I would like to inject a few pieces of information about the
> Space Shuttle Tiles from my personal experiences with them.
> As the "other" Teacher In Space(TIS) candidate from the state of NH I was
> "given" a damaged flown Tile by NASA way back in January 1986 while I was
> attending the TIS Launch Conference (STS-51-L Challenger) in Florida. The
> tile that I received, was a black borosilicate coated high tempertaure
> tile (HRSI) that was damaged on an earlier mission of the space shuttle
> Discovery. (Each Space Shuttle carries approximately 34,000 separate
> Thermal Protection System (TPS) tiles. (Thirty to 100 tiles are replaced
> on an orbiter after each mission.)
> In order for me to receive this tile from NASA I had to sign a four page
> security agreement form which stated more things than I can possibly
> remember at this time. Basically it stated that this tile was presented
> to me as a representative of the "Space Ambassadors" and the state of NH
> and I could not sell it to anyone, nor could I charge anyone to see it. I
> could not cut it up and give any pieces of it away nor sell any pieces of
> it. I could not give it to any person from a foreign country. If I was to
> retire from teaching within five years of receiving this tile I had to
> return it to NASA. After five years time had elapsed when I was to retire
> from teaching the tile was not my personal property but was to stay with
> the school district from which I retired (I hope that It is still there).
> We were given these tiles of 98.5% pure silicon dioxide to demonstrate the
> amazing thermal protection that they offer to the Space Shuttles. Using a
> blowtorch hundereds of times in schools all over NH I have never seen even
> the least bit of any fusion crust form on the tile that I had used. I
> believe that they are so pure that they never "wear out". However, the
> borosilicate coating on the tiles does appears to wear thin after repeated
> use and may crack and flake and be the cause of replacing numerous tiles
> for each mission. This repeated heating and cooling did cause the tile to
> discolor from the very black tile to a grey color after repeated use. This
> can also be seen on the underside of any of the space shuttles with the
> newer replaced black tiles standing out from the grey tiles that have gone
> through numerous launch and re-entry missions. So for those of you who
> dream of buying a tile from NASA I would say that your chances are about
> as good as buying some of the 842 pounds of lunar rocks and soil samples
> so staunchly discussed as of recent.
> NASA Has had a program in place for many years where they do furnish tiles
> to museums, educational and academic institutions etc. For educational
> purposes and if you want to see all its "NASAese" go to any of the
> following:
> http://www.hq.nasa.gov/oia/nasaonly/itransition/Shuttle_Tiles_Disposition_Plan.pdf
> http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/materials/listbytype/Shuttle_Tiles_Educator_Guides.html
> http://space.about.com/b/2010/12/03/schools-can-order-space-shuttle-tiles-for-educational-use.htm
> Since my retirement from full time teaching I now work part-time at the
> McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center in Concord NH where we are also an NASA
> Educational Resource Center and have received two HRSI black tiles from
> NASA for demonstration purposes. When we use them we do use the
> recommended cotton gloves to handle them and are careful not to damage
> them. I would close by stating that calling these "tiles" is like calling
> a piece of styofoam heavy, for the typical six inch square tile weighs no
> more than a few ounces (50-60 g) depending on the thickness of the
> particular tile. In Fact I will never forget the day that one very
> unknowelgable colleagues when first presented the chance to hold a tile
> in his hand decided to rap it with his knuckle and promptly crack the very
> delicate borosilicate coating rendering the tile as damaged goods. A very
> dramatic demonstration of why a space shuttle is never launched during a
> rain storm.
> So any individual who is questing to get a shuttle tile to add to their
> collection of space memoribilia I suggest you do as I have done and buy
> one from the Buran Space Shuttle Shop.
> Robert A. Veilleux
> Planetarium Educator
> MCauliffe Shepard Discovery Center
> 2 Institute Drive
> Concord, NH 03301
> ______________________________________________
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Received on Tue 28 Jun 2011 09:44:38 PM PDT

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