Return to Human Space Flight home page

Thrust Vector Control

Each SRB has two hydraulic gimbal servoactuators: one for rock and one for tilt. The servoactuators provide the force and control to gimbal the nozzle for thrust vector control.

The space shuttle ascent thrust vector control portion of the flight control system directs the thrust of the three shuttle main engines and the two SRB nozzles to control shuttle attitude and trajectory during lift- off and ascent. Commands from the guidance system are transmitted to the ATVC drivers, which transmit signals proportional to the commands to each servoactuator of the main engines and SRBs. Four independent flight control system channels and four ATVC channels control six main engine and four SRB ATVC drivers, with each driver controlling one hydraulic port on each main and SRB servoactuator.

Each SRB servoactuator consists of four independent, two- stage servovalves that receive signals from the drivers. Each servovalve controls one power spool in each actuator, which positions an actuator ram and the nozzle to control the direction of thrust.

The four servovalves in each actuator provide a force- summed majority voting arrangement to position the power spool. With four identical commands to the four servovalves, the actuator force-sum action prevents a single erroneous command from affecting power ram motion. If the erroneous command persists for more than a predetermined time, differential pressure sensing activates a selector valve to isolate and remove the defective servovalve hydraulic pressure, permitting the remaining channels and servovalves to control the actuator ram spool.

Failure monitors are provided for each channel to indicate which channel has been bypassed. An isolation valve on each channel provides the capability of resetting a failed or bypassed channel.

Each actuator ram is equipped with transducers for position feedback to the thrust vector control system. Within each servoactuator ram is a splashdown load relief assembly to cushion the nozzle at water splashdown and prevent damage to the nozzle flexible bearing.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
Web Accessibility and Policy Notices