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Auxiliary Power Units

The APUs that have been in use to date have a limited life. Each unit was refurbished after 25 hours of operation because of cracks in the turbine housing, degradation of the gas generator catalyst (which varied up to approximately 30 hours of operation) and operation of the gas generator valve module (which also varied up to approximately 30 hours of operation). The remaining parts of the APU were qualified for 40 hours of operation.

Improved auxiliary power units are scheduled for delivery in late 1988. A new turbine housing increases the life of the housing to 75 hours of operation (50 missions); a new gas generator increases its life to 75 hours; a new standoff design of the gas generator valve module and fuel pump deletes the requirement for a water spray system that was required previously for each APU upon shutdown after the first OMS thrusting period or orbital checkout; and the addition of a third seal in the middle of the two existing seals for the shaft of the fuel pump/lube oil system (previously only two seals were located on the shaft, one on the fuel pump side and one on the gearbox lube oil side) reduces the probability of hydrazine leaking into the lube oil system.

The deletion of the water spray system for the gas generator valve module and fuel pump for each APU results in a weight reduction of approximately 150 pounds for each orbiter. Upon the delivery of the improved units, the life-limited APUs will be refurbished to the upgraded design.

In the event that a fuel tank valve switch in an auxiliary power unit is inadvertently left on or an electrical short occurs within the valve electrical coil, additional protection is provided to prevent overheating of the fuel isolation valves.

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