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NASA Space Transportation Science

Final Space Shuttle External Tank Ready For Its Closeup 106

tedlistens writes "The last Space Shuttle's external tank was recently lifted into a 'checkout cell' in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, one of the largest buildings in the world. The completion of the last tank meant the shut down of the assembly line – and the 800 remaining people who worked on it – at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The tank contains the liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen that, along with the solid rocket boosters, powers the Shuttle into orbit. Though they are not typically reused — ten seconds after the engines cut off, the tank falls away to break up over the Indian Ocean, away from known shipping lanes — one new plan imagines using old shuttle parts, including pieces of the tank, to build a new moon rocket. There's a beautiful video of the lifting of the tank at Motherboard."
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Final Space Shuttle External Tank Ready For Its Closeup

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  • 800 employees? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by edremy ( 36408 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @03:21PM (#33828320) Journal
    Let's see: according to SpaceX, they have just over 1000 employees as of June 7th, the launch of the Falcon 9. That's to develop the Falcon 1, 1e and 9, the Merlin, Merlin-vac and Kestrel engines and to get a couple of them into orbit starting from scratch.

    Meanwhile, it takes 800 people just to build a fuel tank for the shuttle, much less the folks needed to move it, assemble it to the stack, etc. Yeah yeah, I know, apples to oranges, but damn that's a lot of people to make a couple of tanks a year.

  • Re:800 employees? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @03:37PM (#33828514)

    They already did put a mockup capsule in orbit. NASA can't do that if both are given the same reasonable sum of money.

  • Re:End of an Era (Score:3, Interesting)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @04:21PM (#33829074)
    I work at KSC so I go to watch every launch in the VAB parking lot. It's one of those things that is almost impossible to convey. The experience can't be recreated with the current technology. The sound is so loud that from 3 miles away car alarms go off and loose clothing dances on your body. The light is so intense it's like watching someone weld with a gas torch. What you see on HD isn't even close because the TV can't put out that kind of brightness. After watching a launch the SRB exhaust flames are burned into your retinas for about an hour.
  • Re:Embedded Video (Score:3, Interesting)

    by david.given ( 6740 ) <> on Thursday October 07, 2010 @04:57PM (#33829570) Homepage Journal
    Ah, you must be a Feyntube [] user too!

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!