Mishap Mangles Shuttle Part
CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA launched an investigation Monday into yet another shuttle workplace accident: serious damage to a nearly half-million-dollar power controller that routes electricity to critical orbiter systems.
The incident, which occurred last week at a shuttle spare parts depot in Cape Canaveral, followed a recent rash of accidents that have resulted in damage to shuttle orbiters and the death of a construction worker.
Two other investigation boards have met to determine the cause of two of those incidents in hopes of preventing similar mishaps in the future.
The estimated cost of replacing the power controller damaged last week would be $452,710, according to a Kennedy Space Center mishap report. Investigators are not yet certain whether replacement will be required.
"That hasn't been determined," KSC spokeswoman Tracy Young said.
Less costly repairs might be an option.
A five-member board tapped to investigate the matter met for the first time Monday.
The initial mishap report said the damage occurred March 27 during an engineering evaluation of the power controller. A power-input connector had been installed backwards. That caused the flow of electricity to be reversed, damaging the controller during testing.
The controller is one of three used to route electricity from a shuttle's power-generating fuel cells to orbiter systems. The devices are considered critical during launch, flight, atmospheric re-entry and landing.
The mishap followed a series of workplace accidents that prompted NASA last month to order a safety standdown at KSC.
Dating back to January, the incidents included a small fire at the KSC Vehicle Assembly Building, damage to a 50-foot shuttle robot arm and the death of a construction worker performing roof repairs.
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