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NASA Space

Endeavor Launch Pad Being Rebuilt Piece By Piece 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-piece-at-a-time dept.
dangle writes "The Exposition Park museum in LA is working to rebuild the Endeavor launch stack, a display that will take thousands of pieces to complete due to parts that are scattered at NASA facilities, museums and other places across the U.S. Most are one of a kind and impossible to replicate. Dennis Jenkins, who spent his entire 30-plus year career sending the shuttles into space, is playing a key role in locating essential parts using his own and his colleagues' institutional memory. Employed by NASA contractor Martin Marietta, he helped write the software used in loading and controlling the liquid oxygen needed to launch the 2,250-ton shuttle assembly into low Earth orbit. Now, with the program part of a bygone era of exploration, the 57-year-old works for the California Science Center, helping officials figure out how to rebuild Endeavour."
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Endeavor Launch Pad Being Rebuilt Piece By Piece

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  • by Calydor (739835) on Monday March 17, 2014 @11:09AM (#46506057)

    Did we get these from another space-faring civilization with whom we've lost contact or something? I'm betting the launch pad isn't going to be holding a new rocket, so making a copy of a piece in plastic shouldn't be THAT disastrous, or am I missing something?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's the launch stack, not the launch pad: the goal is to present the shuttle in ready-to-launch configuration, so plastic simacula will not do in some instances. The example they give is a bolt that would've taken a "six figure" sum of dollars to reproduce to its original specifications, which is used to fix the shuttle to its external tank.

      • So what they really meant was impracticable.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's the launch stack, not the launch pad: the goal is to present the shuttle in ready-to-launch configuration, so plastic simacula will not do in some instances. The example they give is a bolt that would've taken a "six figure" sum of dollars to reproduce to its original specifications, which is used to fix the shuttle to its external tank.

        Yea, but creating a bolt that is sufficient for holding the stack together in a static display and not for flight might be a bit less expensive. It might also be desirable to take some of the components and simulate them with things that look real, but are not. Some of the components in the stack where downright dangerous things to handle. Explosive bolts would not be necessary or desirable. Some of the more stressed components might find suitable low quality substitutes given that we will NEVER load the f

        • by OzPeter (195038) on Monday March 17, 2014 @11:35AM (#46506373)

          Some of the more stressed components might find suitable low quality substitutes given that we will NEVER load the fuel or try and launch.

          Until the day comes when the plucky hero/heroine realizes that a "nearly ready to launch" Space Shuttle is located at Exposition Park museum in LA, which will do very nicely for ramming the mother ship of the baby elephants, thereby forcing them into submission.

          • by cellocgw (617879)

            Until the day comes when the plucky hero/heroine realizes that a "nearly ready to launch" Space Shuttle is located at Exposition Park museum in LA, which will do very nicely for ramming the mother ship of the baby elephants, thereby forcing them into submission.

            Hey, I read that book once. WTH is the title?

        • by fgodfrey (116175)

          In the article it barely mentions the issue that causes the 6 figures of expense, which is earthquakes. The museum exhibit has to be certified as safe in an earthquake (since it's in LA). Presumably, there is *TONS* of data explaining the exact forces that the Shuttle stack will stand up to using all original parts. If the parts are replicas, you'd need to certify that the replica wouldn't fail in an earthquake, which would involve quite a lot of engineering work.

      • by gerardrj (207690)

        The "six figure bolt" was probably a dichotomy of incredibly strong and incredibly explosive. It was designed to hold the shuttle to the tank no-matter-what until the exact moment it needed to stop holding them together and then it needed to not exist, immediately and safely and with 100% reliability.
        Any bolt holding anything together in a static, simulated display does not need those tolerances or requirements and I'd bet that a $15 grade 8 bolt of similar size would achieve all the holding power and longe

  • I never got to see a space shuttle launch, and it's one of those things that I'm going to regret forever. On the flip side, I've been able to get up-close and personal with 2 shuttles now, the Enterprise and the Discovery, thanks to the awesome displays in NYC and DC. Getting a chance to see the entire stack on display would just blow my mind, so I really hope this project comes to fruition. I'm probably going to make the trek to the west coast at some point to see the shuttle, but it'd be so much cooler
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2014 @11:27AM (#46506293)

    Thousands of years from now archaeologists will uncover the previously unknown LA launch site and will confuse the hell out of them.

    "The discovery of this launch site is extraordinary in that we never knew of this location being used for launching the Space Shuttle. It doesn't appear in any NASA records we're found so perhaps this was a top-secret location. We are, however, puzzled as to why they would have a launch facility in the middle of such a large sprawling city. One theory we have is that this was a decoy launch site used to confuse the Japanese during the second world war. This finding may rewrite history!"

    • by Solandri (704621)
      Vandenberg AFB [goo.gl] is just a couple hours northwest of Los Angeles. It handles the country's launches into polar orbit [spacearchive.info] (stuff like spy satellites and scientific monitoring satellites - polar orbits cover a greater percentage of the earth's surface area). The viewing is not as good as Kennedy Space Center (most of the launch platforms are behind foothills inside a restricted access military base). But about 10 seconds after launch the rocket is above the hills and the show is the same.
  • And I think about the semi-snarky comment "If we build buildings like we build software, the first woodpecker would destroy civilization", I find myself wondering how anything get's accomplished for real. It seems the really BIG stuff, is a huge one-off and not replicable

  • It looked good even if it was a temporary location. I have to say it was a bit sad buying the kiddo a shuttle toy knowing she now a days can't really realistically dream of being an astronaut in the US. Maybe a few years from now the outlook will be more positive (Not to discount what companies like SpaceX are doing. Just without an active NASA manned space program it just doesn't seem the same.)
    • by thrich81 (1357561)

      NASA had a selection for a new astronaut class just last year. Selected eight new candidates/trainees.

  • This is a worthwhile endeavor. Suuuuure. With the shortage of funds for the arts these days, is THIS what a museum spends money on?
    • by djlemma (1053860)
      TFA says the money was raised through a $250 million campaign. Donors WANT this. The parts are free, they just have to be found, and the museum just has to cover the shipping and paperwork costs. Doesn't sound wasteful to me, sounds like the obvious and worthwhile thing to do. Or would you prefer these parts to be sold wholesale for scrap?
  • Really? We are going to spend money building a launch pad for a rocket that will never fly again, rather than on rockets that will? I'd be a lot more tolerant of this sort of thing if we had something now that replaced the shuttle.

    How is the plan to pay the Russians to put our astronauts in space looking now.....

    • Re:Cargo cult? (Score:4, Informative)

      by gerardrj (207690) on Monday March 17, 2014 @01:10PM (#46507673) Journal

      That's the rub... the museum can rais $250M to install a shuttle exhibit but if you asked those same people to pay that much in taxes that was guaranteed to go to NASA they would balk.
      Most people labor under the false impression that NASA has a tremendous budget, perhaps almost as large as the military budget when in reality NASA's portion of US spending is about .75% of the total budget (historically it has been as high as 4.5% and is currently about .5%). If the government as a whole could operate as efficiently as NASA does we'd have solved world hunger, provided free healthcare to all Americans, and have free mass transit in every city.
      Over the SST program lifespan NASA spend about $192B on the entire thing. For comparison: the US Air Force's F-35 program is expected to cost $857B over its life span (figure you need to double that to get to the number we'll actually wind up at).
      The US spends about $220B on interest payments, so we could re-build the entire SST program for the price of 1 year of interest payments!

    • "We" aren't going to spend the money; donors to the $250 million fundraising campaign are. It's not like public funds are going into paying for the display.
  • If it was made once, it could be made again. It's not art -- it's engineering.

In any formula, constants (especially those obtained from handbooks) are to be treated as variables.

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