At the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF), the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) segments are processed after they arrive by rail prior to a Shuttle launch. Using overhead bridge cranes capable of lifting up to 200 tons, the engineers remove the rail cover of the SRB segments, inspect the propellant grain and metal surfaces and rotate the SRB segments to vertical and secure them on a pallet until launch.

NASA has a requirement to be able to lower a suspended SRB segment if one of the RSPF’s bridge cranes stops operating or has a loss of electrical power in the middle of a lifting operation, thus causing a suspended load situation. A crane brake release tool is designed to be able to lower an SRB motor segment to the ground or onto a dolly in a controlled manner. The tool was tested and was able to lower a test weight identical
to a motor segment by releasing the brake pressure. The descent was throttled at varying speeds, and the system was able to stop at any point and restart. This tool is now used for annual load testing on the redundant brakes.

This work was done by Donald Swem of Kennedy Space Center. For further information, contact the Kennedy Innovative Partnerships Office at (321) 861-7158. KSC-13516

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