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NASA Space Science

Inside the Mummification of Space Shuttle Discovery 98

longacre writes "When Space Shuttle Discovery goes on display at the Smithsonian next month, it will be a shell of its former self, with most of its critical systems removed. This article has a behind-the-scenes look at the removal of the engines and their replica replacements, as well as photos of the orbiter in various states of deconstruction. 'From the very beginning it was understood by all parties involved — including the orbiter recipients — that the orbiters will be made safe and inert prior to display, as was made clearly evident in NASA’s request for proposals to house the orbiters. Discovery’s preparation for display took a year and cost approximately $28 million. Since the Smithsonian is a federally owned institution, this cost was borne by the U.S. government, unlike the other institutions that have to foot the bill for the preparation and delivery of the orbiters. The price tag did not stop the frantic push to get one by an eager group of contenders. At stake was not only a piece of American history and the prestige of housing an orbiter but the potential draw for millions of new paying visitors to the recipient museums.'"
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Inside the Mummification of Space Shuttle Discovery

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  • The real reason... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @02:55PM (#39488125)

    for mummification and/or embalming, is to make sure the person is actually, really, dead. This isn't mothballing. It's making sure Discovery doesn't fly again.


  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:09PM (#39488303) Homepage Journal

    "this cost was borne (sic) U.S. government"

    should read:

    "this cost was borne (sic) U.S. taxpayers"

    A common mistake. Even when our government doesn't pay for it, they borrow on our good names. The buck won't stop in the Oval Office.

  • Re:LOL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @03:25PM (#39488537)

    Reading the article it sounds more like it was considered easier/cheaper/less risky to just discard all the components that had touched any toxic/caustic liquids rather than clean and preserve them.

    At this location, the retired former Shuttle Program manager Wayne Hale encountered the extracted tanks that made up the innards of the systems, cut up and lying in the dirt.

    There were a few exceptions like the engines which were scavenged for use with STS (like that will ever actually happen), and other deconstruction to learn about the effects of 15 years of space flight (that is worthwhile).

  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @04:02PM (#39489007) Homepage Journal
    That's D.C. math right there! File that along with calling increasing funding by a smaller amount than you increased it last year as a "cut".
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @06:09PM (#39490485)

    The only older one available for viewing is the Enterprise*, which was never a functional shuttle. It never had any of the engine components, or thermal tiles. Much of the electronics and other interior finishing were never installed, and the few useful pieces of equipment that were installed were later removed as spare parts for the actual shuttle fleet. It truly was an empty shell.

    These should be quite a bit better than that, even after removing much of the guts.

    *Or it could have been one of the mockups, like Explorer.

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