National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Multiple On-Orbit Lube Jobs linked to NASA Glenn


On November 20, astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough conducted what is most likely the world’s most extreme lube job, greasing the Canada Arm’s Latching End Effector (LEE) and the failed starboard Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ). Both of these mechanisms began to fail when their original solid lubricants unexpectedly wore out. Since solid lubricants cannot readily be replenished, the on-orbit addition of grease was seen as the best recovery plan.

In late 2006, Drs. Christopher DellaCorte and Phillip Abel consulted with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to help them troubleshoot sticking cable end bearings observed on the LEE. Lab tests confirmed that the addition of grease to the SARJ contact surfaces reduced friction and was a viable recovery option. Coincidentally, both the LEE and the SARJ were greased during the same EVA.