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NASA Space Transportation Science

Space Shuttle Collides With Bridge In New York 157

First time accepted submitter AbrasiveCat writes "While transporting the space shuttle Enterprise to its new home at the Intrepid Museum, a gust of wind caught the shuttle and pushed a wing tip into the South Channel Subway Bridge. With any luck it was just the protective covering that was damaged. Ah, New York traffic."
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Space Shuttle Collides With Bridge In New York

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  • Blast. (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:05AM (#40219635) Journal
    We were hoping that Britain would provide something of a buffer; but it looks like metric wind is making its way from the EU after all...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wish they weren't so common.

  • It was on a boat (Score:5, Informative)

    by wookaru ( 1521381 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:06AM (#40219651)
    The summary should reflect that the Space Shuttle was being transported on top of a barge at the time of collision. Very low speed impact, very little damage. Headline is misleadingly catastrophic.
    • Re:It was on a boat (Score:5, Informative)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:13AM (#40219751)
      Low speed doesn't mean little damage necessarily.

      A barge is fairly heavy, and if it's being pulled with the current, there's a whole lot of energy behind it. The shuttle could act like the crumple zone on a car in a collision, essentially being crushed in the process of slowing or stopping the barge.
    • Cue up "I'm on a Boat" by Lonely Island.
    • by azalin ( 67640 )
      Well as we claim to be well informed techno nerds, we should have known that there are no more flying (and fueled up) shuttles around. There where only to options left: 1) Oversized truck not quite making a turn and doing some (minor) damage to the shuttle. 2)Shuttle on a ship with a lot more options on the scale of the damage to the shuttle.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        It could have fallen off a plane.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        While I assumed truck (shame on me for not following how the shuttle was being moved!) My first mental image was of them shearing the tail off on a bridge because someone forgot to measure... seeing the wingtip damage in the photos though makes me think this is mostly a non-story, that damage looks quite minor, and probably easily enough fixed/covered up. (especially being that the repair doesn't need to be able to survive launch or re-entry stresses)

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Yeah, but when the need to pull it out of display to lainch it to save us from [X] it needs to be flight ready!

          I'm sure some one at Syfy is writing the right now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by htnmmo ( 1454573 )

      I agree. Still too soon to be publishing stories with sensational headlines about aircraft crashing into things in NY.

      I'm not trying to be funny or sarcastic.

    • It's not like it'd be flying. It's been retired.

    • According to the summary, the shuttle was being transported by a gust of wind.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    it would have been taken care of better.

  • by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:09AM (#40219705) Journal
    Ready for throttle-up.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:25AM (#40219909)

      Ready for throttle-up.

      Well, as long as we're all going to hell today, 2001 called, 1986 can have its tasteless humor back:


  • the level of anxiety I felt when reading the headline. I had to take a moment to remember they aren't in use.

  • Disappointment (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why am I both relieved and disappointed this wasn't an awesome space crash?

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Were you expecting the saucer crashdown from Star Trek: Generations?

      C'mon! I mean, Marina Sirtis wasn't even driving...
      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Was Kirk flying it?

        All I can say is, we're certain they didn't forget to disengage the parking brake this time!

      • Yea, what was up with that.
        I mean Riker is suppose to be a really good pilot and all. He should have just taken the helm. Or why not Data to handle both consoles. I mean he is orders of magatudes faster then a human, he could do whatever he does and pilot the ship at the same time.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          Because Data was influenced by the emotion chip, and we couldn't have made fifteen years worth of "women driver" jokes...
      • by isorox ( 205688 )

        Were you expecting the saucer crashdown from Star Trek: Generations?

        C'mon! I mean, Marina Sirtis wasn't even driving...

        The fact she was driving when the E* crashed in Generations was bad luck. Besides, the Enterprise-E crashed into a ship in Nemesis too

  • I wish there was a way to post a diagram of what I was imagining this article to be about, based on the headline alone.

    Hint: It would have been the Brooklyn Bridge, and there would have been volcanoes and dinosaurs involved.
  • by Sez Zero ( 586611 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:22AM (#40219885) Journal
    THIS is why you CAN'T have nice things!
  • Should of sent it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:27AM (#40219933)
    Should of sent it to Texas, we were more careful with our shuttle replica than they were with the real things it seems. Someones head is going to roll over this I bet.
    • It's just the Enterprise, not one of the shuttles that was actually launched.

      We should return it to NASA. "This one's broken, we want to exchange it for Atlantis"

    • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:49AM (#40220179)

      Yeah, they were trying to console Houstonians a few weeks ago by telling them, "Well, at least the model shuttle we'll be getting is something the public will be allowed to walk through and see from the inside." Small comfort for a city that's devoted so much to the industry. It just feels like a massive slap in the face.

    • The space under bridges is very narrow in a lot of the major ports of the world. During low tide, sometimes there's only 2-3 feet of clearance. I think not accounting for the lift of the wings from the wind is something not many people would account for.

    • by gmhowell ( 26755 )

      Should of sent it to Texas, we were more careful with our shuttle replica than they were with the real things it seems. Someones head is going to roll over this I bet.

      Texas was already given a shuttle [wikipedia.org]. You just have to go pick up the pieces and put it together.

      What, too soon?

  • by khr ( 708262 ) <kevinrubin@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:31AM (#40219965) Homepage

    Well, I can say there was nothing recognizable damaged to an untrained eye with a 300mm camera lens... I was on the bank of the bay, near the Verrazana-Narrows Bridge taking pictures... Maybe that's why they were late getting there, they might've stopped to inspect it after the collision.

    • Maybe you shoulda shot the side that hit the bridge, since you can clearly see damage in some of the photos.

  • Ambiguities (Score:4, Informative)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:32AM (#40219977) Homepage

    There are many ambiguities in the summary.

    1. The bridge was over water, not a roadway.

    2. This was neither caused by "New York traffic" nor did it disrupt (land) traffic.

    3. The protective covering that was damaged was on the Enterprise, not the bridge.

    4. You can view photos of the damage [collectspace.com] yourself.

    • 3. The protective covering that was damaged was on the Enterprise, not the bridge.

      And the "protective covering" that was damaged is actually part of Enterprise in the same way the [protective] bumper on the front of your car is part of your car. It's physically part of the vehicle.

  • No Business in NYC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:33AM (#40219995)

    I'm so glad New York City got a Space Shuttle instead of the National Museum of the United State Air Force. That way, citizens can pay to see it (NMUSAF is totally free--including parking), in a setting that makes sense (there were carrier-based space shuttles, right?) and it's clustered next to another shuttle (less than eight hours NYC to DC, vs. putting it towards the center of the country). Further, this shows that the Intrepid museum is already providing the lack of care they have provided other artifacts [slashdot.org].

  • Wow,this is going to kill the value of it even more! It doesn't have the original box and instructions, now it's nicked up. NFW will they get the high dollar at ComicCon.

    I guess it'll just have to be suspended on a string from the Statue of Liberty's arm.

  • So, (Score:5, Funny)

    by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:45AM (#40220123)

    these are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise?

  • ...women drivers...

  • Seriously, this thing is getting more press coverage then when it was in use. Also, does this mean the Earth's core is going to stop spinning?

    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      Yes, the Earth's core is going to stop spinning. The secret spacecraft that was in orbit for a year was measuring the earth's magnetic field to confirm it.

      And this time, make sure to go around the air pockets in your way to the core and don't forget to bring bad some diamonds.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @11:59AM (#40220341)

    .. and again, there were no survivors among the shuttle crew.

  • by ebinrock ( 1877258 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @12:11PM (#40220547)
    [Scotty]: What, she didna' have her shields up?
    • by isorox ( 205688 )

      [Scotty]: What, she didna' have her shields up?

      [Cartwright] They're heading for the bridge!

  • A better headline would have been "Enterprise crashes into bridge"
    I mean everybody knows the shuttles are retired, but CVN65 hasn't retired just yet (I think its on the last tour of duty) and I am sure an aircraft carrier would do a lot more damage, not to mention the potential of leaks from its 8 reactors.

    • And if Captain Kirk had to bring the Starship Enterprise back in time for another load of whales, and crashed into a bridge? Well, there goes the future, destroyed by angry space-whales.
  • ...if this headline was from two years ago.
  • It's not like this is rocket science.


  • I saw Enterprise when it was still at Udvar-Hazy. I have also seen Discovery at its new home in Udvar-Hazy. I'm no rocket scientist, but Discovery was much more impressive. It... felt... like a spacecraft. Okay, now waiting for more knowledgeable people to tell me about the real differences in external appearance between Discovery and Enterprise, or alternatively, use me as an example of how external knowledge (Discovery was a real shuttle, Enterprise just a testbed) can affect perception.
    • by Teancum ( 67324 )

      The Enterprise was intended to go into space, and wasn't designed as merely a testbed. The main differences that you might have seen is because of two big factors:

      • * The Discovery actually went into space... more than once. Going through re-entry a few times can put a few scorch marks and make it look "more real".
      • * The Enterprise was sort of "frozen in time" having missed a great many "upgrades" that were applied to the rest of the Shuttle fleet

      The main problem was the internal airframe of the Enterprise

  • by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) <clipper377@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @04:00PM (#40224165) Homepage

    After looking at the pictures, it's not like the Brooklyn bridge just jumped out in front of the barge carrying the shuttle. It was transiting a fairly narrow bridge. The wingspan on the shuttle is 78 feet, and a google map distance measurement of where the shuttle clipped the bridge says the space they had to work with was about 100 feet, give or take. That means if you absolutely threaded the needle, you should have had 11 feet (That's about 3.3 meters for you folks unfamiliar with a proper unit of measurement =) ) to work with on either side of the bird. That seems like a lot, but on a windy day.....very touchy.

    https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=J+F+K+Airport,+New+York,+NY&aq=0&oq=JFK+&sll=40.639749,-73.824348&sspn=0.097239,0.057421&vpsrc=0&t=h&ie=UTF8&hq=J+F+K+Airport,+New+York,+NY&z=13&cid=17028024512003641840&iwloc=A [google.com]

    (if the link is jacked up, just go to JFK and work your way south east)

    It looks like, from the pictures upthread, the shuttle hit the railroad bridge that sits between Cross Bay Blvd and JFK airport. I've ground handled large aircraft on the tarmac, and 11 feet is too close for comfort in my book. I don't envy the guys who had to try and make that work.

    • 11 feet on either side is a lot, even in 35kt gusts. The shuttle and barge are very heavy. They should have sailed further into the wind, leaving under 10 feet on the windward side, and more than a dozen feet in the lee to work with. They should have covered the shuttle in a frame and cover that would have made it less of a sail through that narrow passage. They should have armored the wingtips with a few feet of protection. Hell, they could have flown it into Newark and out the Raritan Bay.

      This collision i

      • You're right about the heavy part. The problem is, 35kts is a heck of a gust, not a sustained wind. Even if they were correcting to one side or the other, when a strong wind gets that much mass moving in one direction, there's not much you're gonna do. It has been proven time and again that Newton's laws > an infinite number of "oh shit oh shit oh shit" utterances.

        • Navigating that narrow passage is a well known problem, both generally and in this voyage. I personally have navigated it since I was a kid, though in a small craft that has no problem fitting between the structures. 35kts is not unique to that day. Since it's directly opposite Jamaica Bay from the JFK airport, the wind patterns are completely well documented.

          If they were going to fly the shuttle into JFK instead of into Newark (which I believe has a clear passage, even for a wide load like a shuttle), they

  • I know the damage is minor, but it's just sad to see a symbol of our great space achievements be subject to so much indignity. Involved in a fender bender while riding on a garbage scow headed for New Jersey. Oh, Enterprise! I weep for thee.

  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @05:16PM (#40225295) Homepage

    "On the 4th of June 2012, on this spot, the Space Shuttle Enterprise crashed into this bridge."

    Details are not that important. Awesome plaqueage is.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:28PM (#40227489) Homepage Journal

    Fortunately, the damage seems to be cosmetic, limited to the foam that covered the wingtip. No structure or mechanisms appear to have been damaged
    We will [on Monday be able to] better assess the wingtip damage (it was late by the time we docked, with almost no light available)

    These clowns should never have been allowed to touch the Shuttle. That "cosmetic foam" was one of the most important structures/mechanisms on the shuttle: its heat shield that protected it from reentry. That reentry is what makes it a shuttle and not just a launcher. The heat shield foam was one of the most famous innovations brought by the shuttle programme. They didn't know that? Why didn't they cover the wingtips with something stronger than foam? They knew it was narrow clearance, in a usually windy passage.

    But then, they evidently don't have artificial lighting to inspect their cargo after dark, either. Or schedules, so they'd know they'd need lights to inspect the shuttle for damage once they arrived, even if they hadn't obviously smashed it.

    This was a brand-new Space Shuttle. They just broke it. Weeks Marine should have to buy NYC a new one.

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