Orion Heat Shield Tilt/Rotate Table

Early in 2008, a NASA contractor responsible for building the heat shield for the Orion re-entry vehicle presented the challenge of designing a system that would be capable of lifting, tilting, and rotating the heat shield during its many stages of manufacture.

The 16 ft. diameter heat shield is covered with a honeycomb material with hundreds of thousands of holes. Each one of these holes needs to be filled by hand with a special caulking material. To do this, our 6,000-lb capacity system tilted the heat shield to a vertical position and rotates it 360 degrees about the center so the operators could easily reach the entire heat shield surface.

Among the many challenges of this project was the accurate rotational indexing and positioning repeatability required for robotic X-Ray inspection.