KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. - Jim Landy, NDE specialist with USA, points to an area of a Reinforced Carbon Carbon panel just examined using flash thermography. A relatively new procedure at KSC, thermography uses high intensity light to heat areas of the panels. The panels are then immediately scanned with an infrared camera. As the panels cool, any internal flaws are revealed. The gray carbon composite RCC panels are attached to the leading edge of the wing of the orbiters. They have sufficient strength to withstand the aerodynamic forces experienced during launch and reentry, which can reach as high as 800 pounds per square foot. The operating range of RCC is from minus 250º F to about 3,000º F, the temperature produced by friction with the atmosphere during reentry. The panels will be installed on the orbiter Discovery, designated for the first Return to Flight mission, STS-114.
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