There was some thread here on Space Stack-Exchange about RS-25 refurbishment, but I am interested now, how this refurbishment look from the point of material damage of SSME hardware.
In the early years of the shuttle, SSME needed months of refurbishment and turbopumps must be from safety reasons completely disassembled into small parts. In 30 years of Shuttle program, SSME went through 5 mayor redesign/overhauls but even in 2010 they needed detailed inspections after each flight and some parts refurbishment/replacement. (Quote from Daniel Dumbacher, deputy director of the Exploration Launch Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala..)
So my questions are:
- How many parts on 2010 version of SSME (latest redesign/overhaul version) needed refurbishment/replacement after each flight and why?
- Was there some material damage, some cracks, erosion of the surface inside pre-burner, combustion chamber or rocket nozzle as a result of heat and pressure of combustion process? Or simply cracks as result of mechanical stresses on engines, turbopumps during ascend?
- How was this different in 2010 version of SSME versus the older versions?
- Did fact that 2010 version of SSME needed much less refurbishment than earlier versions of SSME result in some significant cost savings? Could they fire some employees and limits Shuttle program fixed costs?