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Vertical Tail

The vertical tail consists of a structural fin surface, the rudder/speed brake surface, a tip and a lower trailing edge. The rudder splits into two halves to serve as a speed brake.

The vertical tail structure fin is made of aluminum. The main torque box is constructed of integral-machined skins and strings, ribs, and two machined spars. The fin is attached by two tension tie bolts at the root of the front spar of the vertical tail to the forward bulkhead of the aft fuselage and by eight shear bolts at the root of the vertical tail rear spar to the upper structural surface of the aft fuselage.

The rudder/speed brake control surface is made of conventional aluminum ribs and spars with aluminum honeycomb skin panels and is attached through rotating hinge parts to the vertical tail fin.

The lower trailing edge area of the fin, which houses the rudder/speed brake power drive unit, is made of aluminum honeycomb skin.

The hydraulic power drive unit/mechanical rotary actuation system drives left- and right-hand drive shafts in the same direction for rudder control of plus or minus 27. For speed brake control, the drive shafts turn in opposite directions for a maximum of 49.3 each. The rotary drive actions are also combined for joint rudder/speed brake control. The hydraulic power drive unit is controlled by the orbiter flight control system.

The vertical tail structure is designed for a 163-decibel acoustic environment with a maximum temperature of 350 F.

All-Inconel honeycomb conical seals house the rotary actuators and provide a pressure and thermal seal that withstands a maximum of 1,200 F.

The split halves of the rudder panels and trailing edge contain a thermal barrier seal.

The vertical tail and rudder/speed brake are covered with a reusable thermal protection system. A thermal barrier is also employed at the interface of the vertical stabilizer and aft fuselage.

The contractor for the vertical tail and rudder/speed brake is Fairchild Republic, Farmingdale, N.Y.


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