Saturday, December 15, 2007


NOTE: The following couple of paragraphs will reveal how much of a dork I am and therefore if you are reading this as a slightly more normal person, you may want to just skip this entry altogether...

Ever wonder how the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle magically fall away from the external tank (the big orange tank) and orbiter once they are done burning? Well, they have these bolts, 8 for each booster, which are stuffed with pyrotechnics (dynamite) and are blown up when the time comes. Now this is a tricky business because the bolts have to be strong enough to hold the boosters onto the external tank but weak enough to break when the explosives go. Therefore, it is imperative that the bolts and their electroless nickel plating are within very tight dimensional tolerances.

So what does this have to do with me? Well, recently the company's plant that does the electroless Ni plating burned down, meaning their new place had to be certified. Guess who's job that is? So we recently ran some test bolts through at the new plant and now have to make sure the coating is up to spec. The only problem is that NASA needs the bolts quickly because with the bolts, the shuttle doesnt fly. So.... tomorrow I get to carry some pieces of the bolts down to KSC so we can look at the coating. Then, if we give the go ahead, they'll start plating the production hardware in LA. So even thought the travel kind of sucks sometimes, its cool that I get to make decisions on things that actually matter (like whether or not the shuttle launches). Well, I think that was enough rhetorical questions for about a week, dont you?

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