• Boyd Brinton, MTI (4/11/86, excerpts)

    From alissa.packer@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Wed Oct 26 13:50:09 2016
    On Thursday, January 30, 2003 at 11:08:12 AM UTC-7, john_thomas_maxson wrote:
    A little perspective from a project engineer is often helpful
    in understanding the big picture. Even Thiokol had one:


    - - -
    FRIDAY, April 11, 1986
    - - -

    Marshall Space Flight Center
    Huntsville, Alabama

    Interview conducted by:
    Staff Investigator

    P R O C E E D I N G S

    MR. MALEY: This is Patrick James Maley, staff investigator for
    the Presidential Commission an [sic] 51-L. The interviewee is Boyd
    Brinton, B-r-i-n-t-o-n. The place of the interview is Marshall Space
    Flight Center. The date is April 11, 1986. The time is approximately
    7 a.m.
    Mr. Brinton, if you would go ahead and just identify yourself and
    give us your current job title at Morton Thiokol.
    MR. BRINTON: Okay. As Pat said, my name is Boyd C. Brinton.
    I am presently manager of the space booster project engineer [sic] at
    Morton Thiokol.
    MR. MALEY: In Utah?
    MR. BRINTON: In Wasatch Division, Utah.
    MR. MALEY: Right. Now, how long have you been employed at
    Morton Thiokol?
    MR. BRINTON: Since August 1958, and that's 27 or 28 years.
    MR. MALEY: Okay. I don't think I've talked to anybody at
    Thiokol who's been under 25 years. Sounds like a good -- not too
    much turnover out there.
    During that period of time, when were you first associated with the shuttle program?
    MR. BRINTON: I scribbled down some notes at one time. Let me
    see if I can find them. I started out on the shuttle program very early
    in the program, before it was really defined. I was a supervisor of a preliminary design group, and we, Thiokol, got requests to do some preliminary designs for a vehicle that at that time was not even firmly identified as a space shuttle.
    And we did preliminary designs and subsequently presented them
    to all of the various prime contractors, to Boeing, Rockwell, and some
    of those people. That was approximately 15 years ago.
    MR. MALEY: Okay.
    MR. BRINTON: Before contracts were issued or before any study
    contracts were concerned.
    MR. MALEY: Was that a design of the solid rocket booster or of
    the actual orbiter?
    MR. BRINTON: That was a design of the solid rocket boosters,
    or boosters.
    MR. MALEY: Okay. And since that time, what activities have you
    filled in the solid rocket booster program?
    MR. BRINTON: I just found my notes.
    MR. MALEY: Good.
    MR. BRINTON: From approximately August 1958 -- and I tell
    you, these are from my memory. I could go back and research the
    MR. MALEY: That's fine.
    MR. BRINTON: But approximately August 1958 until 1971, I was
    doing systems analysis and preliminary design work. In 1971, we
    received the space shuttle contract and I became manager of the nozzle development for the space shuttle program in the program office. At
    that time, both project engineering and program management were in
    the same office, and I wore both hats.
    In 1978 or [sic] 1983 I became manager of the solid rocket motor development department, and then in 1983 to I believe March 1984 I
    was director of the SRM project. And then in 1984 we reorganized
    and split up the project engineering and program management, and I
    became the manager of the project engineering group.
    MR. MALEY: Okay. How many people worked under you?
    MR. BRINTON: Directly, right now?
    MR. MALEY: Right.
    MR. BRINTON: Well, I think it's 32, something like that.
    MR. MALEY: Okay. And you primarily work at the Wasatch
    MR. BRINTON: Yes.
    MR. MALEY: And you're currently down here for what reason?
    MR. BRINTON: Marshall has asked that there be a contractor representative in the HOSC when each flight goes up, and since they
    made that request, two or three years ago, I have had that
    responsibility, while a time or two I've delegated it to one of my
    department managers.
    I am normally at the HOSC for the launches, and I was for 51-L.
    And I have been here near continuously since then. I've been home
    MALEY: Okay.

    ... ... ...

    MR. BRINTON: ... And in all the discussions that I've been
    involved in -- and maybe these are some of the things that I have
    learned since the investigation, but all of the discussions that I have
    ever been in -- and it was my firm belief before the incident, and I understand I'm not alone in this, but it was my firm belief that if there were an O-ring problem, it would occur immediately on ignition or
    during the first half second or less, and that there would have been
    the failure at that time.
    And so it was -- looking back on it, it was my belief that we had
    a redundant seal, and that I couldn't imagine or hadn't thought about,
    one of the two, the possibility that the seal -- that an O-ring would
    seal and then at some --
    MR. MALEY: Later point.
    MR. BRINTON: -- later point fail. And all of the discussions that
    I was in as part of the O-ring redesign reviews and that sort of thing
    was all addressing what was happening or what would happen in the
    first few hundred milliseconds.

    ... ... ...

    MR. BRINTON: As we saw continued erosion both in the case
    to nozzle joint and the case joints, this was addressed at every flight readiness review before every flight. There were some quite detailed analyses done to determine the mechanism, you know, what was
    going on.
    These analyses said that it was a self-limiting type phenomenon.
    That is -- in order to have -- do you understand what I said?
    MR. MALEY: No, I was about to --
    MR. BRINTON: I could tell by your face, I wasn't sure that I was communicating with you.
    MR. MALEY: Self-limiting phenomenon.
    MR. BRINTON: What the analysis said and still does, is that if
    an O-ring erodes it has to erode because hot gas impinges on it and
    erodes it. And in order for that hot gas to impinge on it, there has to
    be a flow of hot gas. And if there is a flow of hot gas, there has to
    be some place for that gas to flow. And so at motor ignition, there
    is a small volume around the O-ring, and only enough gas will flow
    and impinge on the O-ring to fill that small volume, and so there will
    not be a lot of gas that passes.
    MR. MALEY: Just enough?
    MR. BRINTON: Well, there will be enough gas that might flow
    through a hole in the putty and impinge on the O-ring to fill the
    volumes that are behind it.
    MR. MALEY: Okay.
    MR. BRINTON: And those volumes are small.
    MR. MALEY: All right.
    MR. BRINTON: And as soon as those volumes are filled --
    MR. MALEY: It equalizes.
    MR. BRINTON: -- the pressure equalizes and there's no more
    MR. MALEY: Okay.
    MR. BRINTON: And so it's self-limiting. And there were
    analyses done and dimensions taken to see how large that volume
    possibly could be.
    And I wish I knew what happened on 51-L, but that analysis
    was at least partially right, because if there was initial blow-by and erosion it did in fact seal, just like the analysis said. It was self- limiting.
    Maybe it had done enough damage that it broke out 58 seconds
    later. Maybe something else happens at 58 seconds. I sat in
    meetings all day yesterday while a lot of people discussed that, and
    there wasn't anybody that stood up and said, this is what happened.

    ... ... ...

    MR. MALEY: So there are a lot of theories as to what happened
    later in flight.

    ... ... ...

    MR. BRINTON: ... in the early 1985 time period ...
    ... ...
    MR. BRINTON: But at that time period I was the manager of
    space booster project engineering. I had just started. Roger
    Boisjoly was a department manager, and he had total responsibility
    for the case and the joints.
    MR. MALEY: Okay.
    MR. BRINTON: And he was working on it at that time.
    MR. MALEY: All right.
    MR. BRINTON: Then, let's see, in about August Roger had
    gone back to design engineering then, and he came to me and I
    think went to Bob Lund about the same time and indicated that he
    felt we ought to get a group of people together and start looking at
    the design, and again the nozzle design. ... ... ...


    Posted by John Thomas Maxson - www.mission51l.com

    Do you know where I could find the original from this interview? Boyd Brinton was my Grandfather.

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