ON-ORBIT SPACE SHUTTLE INSPECTION SYSTEM UTILIZING AN EXTENDABLE BOOM
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An extension to the existing shuttle remote manipulator system (SRMS) on the space shuttle orbiter was developed to provide on-orbit inspection capabilities to survey the thermal protection system (TPS). Following the space shuttle Columbia tragedy, the ability to adequately inspect the orbiter TPS is required for every flight. The inspection system proposed here entails the design of a deployable boom extension to the SRMS that meets the system kinematic and structural requirements. Aiming for a compact and maneuverable system, an extendable boom was designed as an alternative to the boom system planned by NASA. Using requirements derived from of the inspection task, a preliminary design for the boom was developed using a lenticular extendable boom. The inspection system was designed to be compatible with existing orbiter systems while minimizing risk to the shuttle. This project confirmed the feasibility of an on-orbit extendable boom-based inspection system for the orbiter TPS.