Another epic journey for the retirement of a space shuttle. This one is Endeavour and it is destined for Los Angeles. It will arrive at the airport, LAX, on September 20, where it will be moved through heart of the city to the California Science Center.
This will be the first time a spacecraft has been moved through a city and it should be quite a spectacle.
Moving the shuttle — which measures 57 feet tall at the tip of the tail and has a wingspan of 78 feet — will be no easy task. Trees will be pruned back or taken out. Power lines will be raised. Traffic signals will be removed.
At its top speed, the transporters carrying the shuttle will travel about 2 mph along the city streets.
For the first time in more than 30 years, NASA is allowing Kennedy Space Center visitors inside the Launch Control Center – where NASA directors and engineers supervised all of the 152 launches including the space shuttle and Apollo programs.
The KSC Up-Close: Launch Control Center (LCC) Tour, the second in Kennedy Space Center’s special 50th anniversary series of rare-access tours, takes visitors inside Firing Room 4, one of the LCC’s four firing rooms and the one from which all 21 shuttle launches since 2006 were controlled.
Inside Firing Room 4, visitors will pass by the computer consoles at which engineers monitored the computerized launch control system’s thousands of system checks every minute leading up to launch. They’ll see the main launch countdown clock and many large video monitors on the walls, and enter the “bubble room,” with its wall of interior windows through which the Kennedy Space Center management team viewed all of the proceedings below.
A Rare Opportunity
As with the Vehicle Assembly Building, visitors have not had access to the LCC since the late 1970s, during the period after the Apollo and Skylab programs ended and before the first space shuttle launch in 1981.
The LCC will continue to operate in guiding the next generation of rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center for NASA and potentially for commercial space programs. Future launches of SpaceX, whose recent launch from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station resulted in the first mission by a commercial company to travel to and dock with the International Space Station, could take place from Kennedy Space Center beginning in 2013.
The LCC Tour is led by a trained space expert, giving visitors an insider’s view of the space program from launch preparation to liftoff. The tour also includes drive-by views of Launch Pad 39 and culminates at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where visitors can resume the regular tour.
For the first time ever, China has launched more rockets into orbit in a year than the U.S. In 2011, the Chinese sent 19 rockets into space. The U.S. sent just 18. Russia, the Walmart of space launches, fired off no fewer than 31 rockets.
…Beijing is not about to catch up to Washington in space. For starters, the U.S. government spends more money than any other country on space launches and spacecraft: nearly $50 billion, compared to just $25 billion or so for all other governments combined…Washington is projected to possess the biggest space arsenal for decades to come.
American launch organizations, which include NASA, the military and several private companies, had a perfect success rate last year. China lost one experimental satellite when a Long March rocket veered off course in August. Russia had the worst record, with four failed launches.
U.S. rockets on average carried more satellites per launch than their Chinese counterparts. Last year, the 18 U.S.-launched rockets placed 28 satellites into orbit. Nineteen Chinese launches placed just 21 sats. Russia’s 31 launches delivered 53 spacecraft.
Not to mention that all the American satellites last longer, but that isn’t the most interesting part for me. What is fascinating is the total amount of spacecraft up there. The report says that during the Cold War the U.S. had 400 satellites in orbit.
It’s not crazy to think that number has doubled or tripled since then. Plus, all the other countries (Japan, European Union) launching things these days. I bet the number is somewhere in the 1,000-2,000 range!
At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, initial mating of space shuttle Discovery and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is complete in the mate-demate device. The device, known as the MDD, is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the aircraft, or SCA.
The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites.
NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Following delivery of Discovery, NASA 905 will ferry Enterprise from Udvar-Hazy to the Intrepid Museum in New York City. Endeavour is scheduled to be similarly moved to the California Science Center in Los Angeles later this year.
NASA’s space shuttle Discovery is set to land in Washington, D.C. this April, where the now retired fleet leader — the world’s most flown spacecraft — will be welcomed by the Smithsonian Institution during a four-day public festival, museum officials said on Tuesday (Feb. 28).
Flying from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, Discovery is scheduled to touch down at Washington Dulles International Airport on April 17, weather permitting. It will then be offloaded by crane and towed to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, two days later.