In 2005, Tri-State Hydraulics was contacted by United Space Alliance (USA), a sub-contractor for NASA, which is responsible for all manned space flight operations. USA was seeking a supplier with the qualifications and capabilities to rebuild the Jacking, Equalization, & Leveling (JEL) cylinders used on the Crawler-Transporter. The massive crawlers, built in 1964, have been used to transport all of the Apollo Rockets and Space Shuttles from the vehicle assembly building to the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center. The JEL cylinders are critical to the operation of the crawlers, which use a leveling system to keep the mobile launch platform level. Tri-State was awarded this vital project over many others based on a number of factors, including their use of an electronic job inspection, routing and tracking system. This system is used on all new cylinders as well as repairs and provides complete traceability of all parts, materials and labor. Tri-State’s ability to track and document the many requirements set by USA made them their #1 choice. Tri-State was also selected for their ability to keep up with the work, so that NASA’s launch schedule could proceed as planned.
The first two JEL cylinders arrived at Tri-State’s Charleroi, PA facility in June of 2006. After receiving a comprehensive inspection and assessment, the cylinders began the rebuild process. The cylinders’ exteriors were heavily corroded, and their interior surfaces were worn and out of tolerance. Each cylinder received a complete rebuild per NASA’s specifications, returning them to like new condition. Once the rebuilds were complete, key NASA and USA personnel witnessed each cylinder as they underwent a series of stringent, NASA required tests. Both cylinders passed all the required tests on the first try. A total of 8 more JEL cylinders were rebuilt by Tri-State in 2010.
Tri-State Hydraulics was presented the 2010 USA Space Flight Awareness Supplier Award. Tri-State was one of the only four suppliers chosen to receive this award out of more than 2000 candidates. Tri-State was able to save USA nearly $500k through the refurbishment of 10 JEL cylinders. Tri-State also designed and constructed a special testing fixture and high pressure power unit, creating a safe and reliable means to test each cylinder. Tri-State dramatically improved upon their quality standards as well to meet USA requirements, and now these standards are implemented company wide, showing that Tri-State places an emphasis on continuous improvement. If you would like to know more about this or any other project undertaken by Tri-State Hydraulics, feel free to contact us at or speak to your local sales representative. We would love to talk with you more about what Tri-State can do for you and your company!