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Shuttle Entry Air Data System

Accurate aerodynamic research requires precise knowledge of vehicle attitude and state. This information, commonly referred to as air data, includes vehicle angle of attack, angle of sideslip, free-stream dynamic pressure, Mach number and total pressure. An evaluation of the orbiter baseline air data system indicated that flight air data would not be available above approximately Mach 3.5 and that the accuracy of the air data would not satisfy aerodynamic research requirements. Therefore, SEADS was developed under the orbiter experiments program to take the measurements required for precise determination of air data across the orbiter's atmospheric flight-speed range (i.e., hypersonic, supersonic, transonic and subconic Mach numbers) or from lift-off to 280,000 feet during ascent and from 280,000 feet to touchdown during entry.

The key to incorporating SEADS in the shuttle orbiter was the development of a technique for penetrating the orbiter's reinforced carbon-carbon nose cap to obtain the required pressure measurements. The SEADS nose cap penetration assembly evolved as a result of extensive design, fabrication and test programs that evaluated high-temperature (greater than 2,600 F) materials and configuration concepts. The coated columbium penetration assembly selected then was fabricated for installation in a specially modified baseline geometry nose cap. The SEADS nose cap contains an array of 14 penetration assemblies, associated coated columbium pressure tubing, support structure, pressure transducers and system-monitoring instrumentation. Data from the SEADS pressure transducers are transmitted to the OEX support system and stored on the OEX tape recorder for postflight data analysis.

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