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Space Science

Satellite Tip-Over Mishap Due to Missing Bolts 76

cradle writes "On September 6th, the $239 Million Dollar NOAA N-Prime Satellite toppled over and crashed to the floor of Lockheed Martin Space Systems' factory in Sunnyvale, CA, as it was being repositioned to replace an instrument. Today NASA released their report on the cause of the accident. It seems somebody forgot to check whether it was bolted down: '... during an operation that required repositioning (rotating) the TIROS NOAA N-PRIME spacecraft from a vertical to a horizontal position, the spacecraft slipped from the Turn-Over Cart (TOC) and fell to the floor. The spacecraft fell because the TIROS adapter plate to which it was mounted was not bolted to the TOC adapter plate with the required 24 bolts. The bolts were removed from the TOC by another project while the cart was in a common staging area, an activity which was not communicated to the NOAA project team.'"
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Satellite Tip-Over Mishap Due to Missing Bolts

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  • by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:58PM (#10443648) Homepage
    Ah, here's the origins forwarded message I got 13 months ago just after the mishap. I knew I had a copy somewhere.

    ------------- Begin Forwarded Message-------------

    Earth Science Missions Anomaly Report: GOES/POES Program/POES Project: 6 Sep
    TO: GSFC: 100/A. Diaz, 100/W. Townsend, 100/ 400/D Perkins, NASA HQ: Y/G. Asrar,
    Y/M. Luther, Q/B O?Connor
    FROM: GSFC/POES Project/480/K. Halterman
    DATE: September 6, 2003
    DATE OF ANOMALY: September 6, 2003
    LOCATION OF ANOMALY: Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale CA


    As the NOAA-N Prime spacecraft was being repositioned from vertical to
    horizontal on the "turn over cart" at approximately 7:15 PDT today, it slipped
    off the fixture, causing severe damage. (See attached photo). The 18' long
    spacecraft was about 3' off the ground when it fell.

    The mishap was caused because 24 bolts were missing from a fixture in the ?turn
    over cart?. Two errors occurred. First, technicians from another satellite
    program that uses the same type of ?turn over cart? removed the 24 bolts from
    the NOAA cart on September 4 without proper documentation. Second, the NOAA team
    working today failed to follow the procedure to verify the configuration of the
    NOAA ?turn over cart? since they had used it a few days earlier.


    The shock and vibration of the fall undoubtedly caused tremendous damage.
    Significant rework and retest will be required. NOAA-N Prime is planned for
    launch in 2008.


    Lockheed Martin formed an Accident Review Team in which GSFC is participating.
    The immediate actions concern safety (preventing the spacecraft from rolling,
    discharging the batteries, and depressurizing the propulsion system). NOAA-N
    Prime is under guard, all records have been impounded, and the personnel
    interviewed. After the safety issues are addressed, attention will focus on
    assessing the damage to NOAA-N Prime.

    ------------- End Forwarded Message -------------
  • Re:Wow!!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by TykeClone ( 668449 ) <> on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @04:43PM (#10444217) Homepage Journal
    Not breaking a quarter billion dollar piece of equipment make your day?
  • by cradle ( 1442 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @06:35PM (#10445421) Homepage Journal
    The report covers much more than just the proximate cause of the accident. It focuses on the organizational and procedural failures that led to a situation where nobody checked the bolts. Whoever posted this story should have mentioned, that, too.

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.