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Leaky Valves May Delay Space Shuttle Launch

Nazita Saye

Nazita Saye

Posted Mar 22, 2010

I remember watching the first space shuttle launch back in 1981.  And almost 29 years later I still remember the sense of awe I felt when watching it take off. It felt like the whole country collectively held its breath and exhaled when it landed safely a few days later. It was a sight to behold and for the first time in my life it made me realize that Sci-Fi in this case was not fiction anymore.  Over the years I’ve seen many other majestic launches and the tragic loss of the Challenger and Columbia shuttles.  Sad days …

So when you see news stories about a shuttle having technical problems, you take notice. Over the weekend, I ran across a story about how Discovery’s upcoming launch may be delayed due to a valve problem in the shuttle’s thruster systems.  They believe the issue relates to two important isolation valves – they are either leaking or stuck open (when they should be closed). Apparently the isolation valves can be closed manually which is good news but they still need to fix this issue if the shuttle is to take off on schedule (and without any problems).

When I read the story the first thought that came to my head was wow… a multi-million dollar project has come to a complete standstill due to a technical glitch in a valve.

Visualizing flow through a valve (this valve is not from the shuttle!).

Visualizing flow through a valve (this valve is not from the shuttle!).

Now I don’t know the details of the valve problem but I do know that valves of all shapes/sizes are around us fulfilling critical tasks such as in fuel delivery systems, in water treatment/processing plants, in medical equipment etc. So making sure valves meet their design function is important. But many organizations are still relying on good ol’ engineering know-how to design valves.  Unfortunately what you don’t see with the naked eye could prove disastrous (whether it’s missing product launch dates, manufacturing issues, or even delay customer delivery). That’s why if you are dealing with valve design, I would like to invite you to watch this short on-demand presentation titled: Flow, Pressure, Cavitation … Use X-Ray Vision to Avert a Design Disaster. The 40-minute presentation covers the typical challenges an engineer faces when designing flow control devices and it’s a good primer for identifying and fixing valve design issues with CFD.

I hope you find the presentation helpful.

Until next time,

Processing Plant, Pressure, Valves, CFD, Design Engineer, Cavitation, Water Treatment Plan, Medical Equipment, Pipes, Flow, Fuel Delivery

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About Nazita Saye

Nazita SayeI have been involved with the CFD user community in one shape or another since 1999 -- when the NIKA team first introduced FloWorks to the engineering community. Over the years I've seen the market evolve and I still marvel at the wide range of products that are being designed with our tools. As the Manager of External Communications for the Mechanical Analysis Division at Mentor, it is my privilege to bring some of our customer stories to you. Visit CFD doesn’t mean Color For Directors

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