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Body Flap

The body flap thermally shields the three SSMEs during entry and provides the orbiter with pitch control trim during its atmospheric flight after entry.

The body flap is an aluminum structure consisting of ribs, spars, skin panels and a trailing edge assembly. The main upper and lower forward honeycomb skin panels are joined to the ribs, spars and honeycomb trailing edge with structural fasteners. The removable upper forward honeycomb skin panels complete the body flap structure.

The upper skin panels aft of the forward spar and the entire lower skin panels are mechanically attached to the ribs. The forward upper skin consists of five removable access panels attached to the ribs with quick-release fasteners. The four integral-machined aluminum actuator ribs provide the aft fuselage interface through self-aligning bearings. Two bearings are located in each rib for attachment to the four rotary actuators located in the aft fuselage, which are controlled by the flight control system and the hydraulically actuated rotary actuators. The remaining ribs consist of eight stability ribs and two closeout ribs constructed of chemically milled aluminum webs bonded to aluminum honeycomb core. The forward spar web is of chemically milled sheets with flanged holes and stiffened beads. The spar web is riveted to the ribs. The trailing edge includes the rear spar, which is composed of piano-hinge half-cap angles, chemically milled skins, honeycomb aluminum core, closeouts and plates. The trailing edge attaches to the upper and lower forward panels by the piano-hinge halves and hinge pins. Two moisture drain lines and one hydraulic fluid drain line penetrate the trailing edge honeycomb core for horizontal and vertical drainage.

The body flap is covered with a reusable thermal protection system and an articulating pressure and thermal seal to its forward cover area on the lower surface of the body flap to block heat and air flow from the structures.

The aft fuselage is built by Rockwell's Space Transportation Systems Division, Downey, Calif. The OMS/RCS pods are built by McDonnell Douglas, St. Louis, Mo. The body flap is built by Rockwell's Columbus, Ohio, division.


Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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