National Aeronautics andSpace Administration
Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, Alabama 35812
N A S A F a c t s
Return to Flight Focus Area
External TankLiquid Oxygen Feedline Bellows
Returning the Space Shuttle to ﬂight is the ﬁrststep in realizing the Vision for Space Exploration,which calls for a stepping stone strategy of humanand robotic missions to achieve new explorationgoals. NASA fuels discoveries that make the worldsmarter, healthier and safer. The Shuttle will beused to complete assembly of the InternationalSpace Station, a vital research platform for humanendurance in space and a test bed for technologiesand techniques that will enable longer journeys tothe Moon, Mars and beyond.
The Space Shuttle External Tank Project is redesign-ing the bellows on the tank’s liquid oxygen (LO2)feedline, topmost fueline, as part of the ShuttleProgram’s efforts to minimize potential debrissources during launch and ascent. The modiﬁcationwill reduce the potential for iceaccumulation on the bellows,improving the overall safetyof the tank.The Space Shuttle Programdetermined that the originaldesign of the three externalbellows could permit ice toform around the outside ofthe bellows and ultimatelythat ice could be shaken freeduring launch and potentiallydamage the Orbiter. Thoughthis typically happens dueto the vibration that occursduring the initial stages ofliftoff and the climb to orbit,the potential still exists for ice and frost to comeoff later when it would be a more hazardous debrissource.
The liquid oxygen feedline carries liquid oxygenfrom the tank to the main engines. The bellows arethe joints that allow the feedline to move, or ﬂex,when the tank is assembled, when it is fueled, andduring liftoff and ascent. They are part of the liquidoxygen feedline assembly that extends externallyalong the right side of the liquid hydrogen tank,up to and within the intertank—the section of thetank that joins the liquid hydrogen and oxygentanks—and then to the aft dome, or tail, of theliquid oxygen tank.