Space Shuttle Challenger tiles/blankets

Going through some pictures of the Space Shuttle Challenger trying to figure out where the tile system is applied. Cutting edge decals gives you some white/light colored decals for tiles up around the nose section. Pictures seem to show the tile continuing down the side and part way up on to the cargo hatches. Researching the shuttle I read where they use insulation blankets in several areas. Anyone know did the shuttle originally use tiles down the side and later switch to the blankets and when did the blankets come into use. Was the Challenger lost before the blankets came into use? Thanks folks, Tim Keily

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Tim Keily
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According to "Shuttle Chalenger" 1987 by David Shayler Prentice Hall/ARCO/Salamander ISBN 0 13 1251473

Nose cap and wing leading edges covered with Reinforced Carbon Carbon (RCC).

The remaining underside, upper surface of nose slightly less than halfway to flight deck windows and sides to forward edge of crew door covered with black High tempreture Reuseable Surface Insulation (HRSI tiles). A narrow band of HRSI arround flight deck windows. Also HRSI on leading edge of fin. There are also bands of HRSI on the upper fuslage between the OMS pods and the fin.

Upper surface of wings adjacent to RCC, upper surface of wing outboard of control surfaces, sides of fuslage between HRSI area and wing leading edge and upper surface of fuslage to an area surrounding upper "skylight" windows covered by Low tempreture Reuseable Surface Insulation (LRSI tiles). LRSI tiles also used on leading surfaces of Obital Manuvering System (OMS) pods, sides of vertical fin and rudder/airbrake. A triangular band of LRSI extends along sides of fuselage and payload bay doors to approximately 4/5 of payload door length, but there is a triangular band of FRSI (see description below) between this band of LRSI and the upper surface of the wing.

I am not quite clear on the book's description of Advanced Flexible Reuseable Surface Insulation (AFRSI) areas on the OMS pods. Apparently this material is used in place of OR in conjunction with the LRSI. This material is described as not used on Columbia, Discovery or Atlantis. The book doesn't mention Endeavour. I can't see the difference between the materials in the photos from other LRSI areas.

Metal panels along leading edges of rudder/airbrake and upper leading edge of wing control surfaces. Metal panel on side of fuselage under trailing edge of OMS pod (Umbilical attachment area)

Remainder of upper fuselage surface, central portions of upper wing surface and bulk of OMS pods covered with Felt Reuseable surface Insulation (FRSI coated Nomex). The FRSI areas on the fuselage sides apparently enjoy some heating protection from the extended leading edge of the wings. The FSRI areas on the fuslage side are clearly visable in a photograph that also shows the "Challenger" designation on the fuselage and starboard wing. The area immediately areound the upper cabin "skylights" looks like FRSI too. The length of the HRSI tiles on top of the nose looks shorter in the photgraph than the drawing that labels the Thermal Protection System (TPS) areas. There are two clusters of RCS thrusters, the tiles around the upper cluster are white, but there's a narrow band of black between the cluster and the cockpit windows.

As Enterprise was not intended for orbital operation and the associated rentry, there may bave been less heat tollerent materials used on some of her surfaces.

I am not presently able to locate another publication I have that MAY have indicated some areas of Columbia that were covered with LRSI that were covered with FRSI or AFRSI on the four newer orbiters. Remember that Columbia not only carried insrumentation that was installed for the early test flights, her greater weight made lower orbital altitudes or lighter payloads necessary on her flights.

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I have some pics of Challenger that show the diff covers. I don't know the tech end of it but you can see where the white tiles are and where the blankets are.

Let me know if you want me to email them to you.


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