1992-10-01

The Effect of Runway Surface and Braking on Shuttle Orbiter Main Gear Tire Wear 922038

In 1988, a 1067 m long touchdown zone on each end of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) was modified from its original heavy-broom finish with transverse grooves configuration to a longitudinal corduroy surface texture with no transverse grooves. The intent of this modification was to reduce the spin-up wear on the Orbiter main gear tires and provide for somewhat higher crosswind capabilities at that site. The modification worked well, so it was proposed that the remainder of the runway be modified as well to permit even higher crosswind landing capability. Tests were conducted at the NASA Langley Aircraft Landing Dynamics Facility (ALDF) to evaluate the merit of such a modification. This paper discusses the results of these tests, and explains why the proposed modification did not provide the expected improvement and thus was not implemented. Also, in an ongoing program to evaluate the origin of various tire wear phenomenon, a series of tests was conducted to evaluate the effect of braking on tire wear. These tests were inspired by Orbiter landings at the SLF which were relatively benign in terms of crosswind yet had visible tire wear. Finally, a section on a modified tire is presented which discusses the suitability of that tire in terms of its wear performance under rollout and braking operations.

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