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Irvine Firm Says Its Shuttle Valve Has Tested OK So Far

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Parker Bertea Aerospace official said Friday that tests into the cause of hydrogen fuel-line leaks in NASA space shuttles have not found that key parts supplied by the Irvine firm were responsible for the problem.

D. E. Logan, a spokesman for parent firm Parker Hannifin Corp. in Cleveland, said late Friday night that “tests to date have not shown any problems with the parts.” The tests, he said, are continuing.

Parker Bertea, which manufactures a wide variety of aerospace parts for commercial and military customers, makes 14 different subsystems for the space shuttle program. Those components include a 17-inch “disconnect valve” that links the shuttle’s fuel tank to the orbiter.

NASA engineers have traced a leak in the shuttle Atlantis and an earlier leak in the shuttle Columbia to the disconnect valve. On Friday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that it had temporarily grounded its entire space shuttle fleet until it could determine the cause of the leaks and fix the problem.

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The 17-inch disconnect valve is responsible for channeling rocket fuel safely to the ship’s main engines. Two fittings, one for liquid hydrogen and the other for liquid oxygen, feed propellants into the shuttle’s belly during launch while large valves in the lines are used to seal off the fuel line just before the tank is jettisoned in space.

Logan said the system in question is only partly made by Parker Bertea. He said the company is working with the shuttle’s main contractor, Rockwell International Corp., to check the integrity of the parts.

Parker Bertea, which employs more than 3,000 people in Orange County, has been building shuttle parts for more than 20 years.

The company’s electronic component products span both civilian and defense aerospace markets. Examples include actuators, or parts that control wing flaps on airplanes; a variety of fuel systems, and hydraulic and cooling systems.

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Parker Bertea reported sales of $703 million for its fiscal year ended June 30, 1989, up 6.8% from $658 million a year earlier.

Parent firm Parker Hannifin earned $124.5 million on sales of $2.5 billion in the year ended June 30, 1989.


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