To infinity & beyond
September 21, 2012 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Photos of the Flight Deck (cockpit) of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, fully powered for one of the final times, by young former NASA photographer Ben Cooper
posted by growabrain (55 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, forget about signing the yearbook, how about we sign the freaking spaceship instead.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:29 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love you, Ben Cooper.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2012

it flew over my house! (also that cockpit is really cool. wow!!!)
posted by supermedusa at 1:34 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I watched it fly over about three hours ago. Cried a little. Thanks, everyone who made it and flew it and maintained it and photographed it.
posted by rtha at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

It went right past my office window. Twice!

Those are awesome pictures.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Suddenly, the people building copies of Star Trek bridges in their garages look like slackers.
posted by ckape at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2012

posted by notme at 1:37 PM on September 21, 2012

I have never gone so quickly from not really considering that a job exists to wanting it so badly as I did just now, upon reading the phrase "NASA photographer."
posted by Partial Law at 1:38 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

More info on the "glass cockpit" upgrade, complete with a short video. I believe this diagram is of the original layout.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:39 PM on September 21, 2012

Absolutely beautiful. I was at NASA Ames for its flyby this morning with my 3 year old who loves the Space Shuttle. I'm sad that he won't be able to see a shuttle "fly" again, but at least he'll soon be able to see one up close and personal in a museum.
posted by zsazsa at 1:41 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's just too bad about the trees of South LA. I've lived and worked in some diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and the trees that lines streets can really tell a story about the neighborhood. Dying saplings up and down Alvarado replanted in their 3'x3' concrete breech on a semi-annual basis. Meanwhile N. Canon is the epitome of met-in-the-middle tree-lined avenue archway.

They ripped over 200 trees out of the ground this month to make way for Endeavor. It is SO FUCKING COOL what they're doing, bringing this bit of science to the Science Center so all can enjoy it, and it's SO FUCKING COOL that it's flying by so much of the nation this past week or so, and so it's really a drag that this little bit of business, for me at least, sort of sullies the whole— well...

FWIW, twice as many trees are being planted in their stead, and that's cool. The increased water bill for those, plus the tender and fragile young years of a sapling, these things are a bit of an offset though. And to think, exactly zero alternative routes were considered. SO FUCKING COOL! And just, gah.
posted by carsonb at 1:43 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Good pics, by the way.
posted by carsonb at 1:44 PM on September 21, 2012

It flew right over my head while I was walking the dog this morning!
posted by trip and a half at 1:49 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

My god, it's full of buttons.
posted by roue at 1:53 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

flew overhead, made me a kid again. amazing.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:56 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Space Shuttle is cooler than trees. Once I got over dinosaurs I was into trees. But then there was Space Shuttle. I was completely obsessed with the Space Shuttle. And in 1983 it came to me. Or to Stansted, which wasn't far. My father wouldn't take me for whatever reason so I ended up driving to the airport with the hippy dad from next-door-but-one and his two anaemic sons who were younger than me, and I was a horrible little prick when I was twelve, so I despised them for being young and anaemic. I missed the first mission two years earlier because I was on a school trip in Somerset. But seeing the Space Shuttle ON THE BACK OF A FLIPPING 747 was the highlight of my life up to that point. Better even than when West Ham won the FA Cup. It was the most people I'd ever seen in one place at one time and I saw a jumbo jet land and it had a spaceship on it.

Someone else's photo taken that day.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:56 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Back in the 90s I did the Space Camp thing. A week close to Cape Canaveral (although it's now in Huntsville along with the program for older kids), tours of NASA stuff, two simulated shuttle missions- one where you were in the shuttle, one as ground control. I think I was the mission controller during my ground simulation, but I do remember getting to be the pilot (right chair) during the simulated shuttle mission. Only about a tenth of the switches were actually explained to us and I remember that I flipped the wrong switches during one phase (orbital maneuvers maybe). But sitting there, in a full mock-up of the space shuttle flight deck and getting to pretend to fly the thing was truly incredible, especially for a 10 year old.

Despite me flipping the wrong switches, we actually had the best shuttle flights of any of the groups (I was an awesome mission controller). The little shuttle pin is still on a shelf in my parent's house.

Writing about this now really makes me wish that they had day long programs at the various museums that have shuttles to simulate a mission. I'd buy tickets in an instant.
posted by Hactar at 1:58 PM on September 21, 2012

Hactar: I was also the pilot in our mission at Space Camp. I had a somewhat similar problem to you: I couldn't find the switches that lowered the landing gear. Oops...
posted by zsazsa at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lieutenant James Cook took one of the first ones on a trip around the world, beginning in 1768.

Centuries later, Harry Kirkwood commanded one for the Royal New Zealand Navy, in the 1950s. Captain Alfred Worden piloted his to and around the Moon on Apollo 15, in 1971. 20 years later, Daniel Brandenstein took another one on a trip around the world, albeit from a greater height. Today, Jeff Moultrie brought that ship to its final home in the city of Los Angeles.

For now and the immediate future, a sailing yacht bearing the great name Endeavour competes in races around the world.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:05 PM on September 21, 2012

Triangle, square, triangle, R2, left......

Goddamit! Thank God I'm not a Shuttle Pilot.
posted by Mblue at 2:09 PM on September 21, 2012

Wow, forget about signing the yearbook, how about we sign the freaking spaceship instead.

I thought I had these photos uploaded somewhere but I can't seem to find them... The inside of the Vehicle Assembly Building has a cinderblock wall that had small signatures of every person who had worked on the shuttle program as well. Very cool to see. (Along with guidance to "please only sign your name, in small writing, and nothing else".)

Endeavour's my shuttle. I got to see her up close, on the launch pad, for the retraction of her Rotating Service Structure just before the launch of STS-134.

And two weeks from today, I'll be marrying my fiancee, whom I proposed to in front of the countdown clock for STS-134's first attempt. (The casual observer will note 10:05 as one of the times on the clock is going to be our wedding day. This was unplanned, but awesome nonetheless.)
posted by disillusioned at 2:10 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by Lynsey at 2:13 PM on September 21, 2012

Least comfortable seats EVER!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2012

Yo, someone tagged the shit out of Endeavour... It's like the bathroom at Max Fish up in there.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:20 PM on September 21, 2012

Twitter tells me that Nichelle Nichols was at LAX to greet Endeavor. I can't find any photos yet, so here's an awesome shot of her telling kids about the Shuttle back in 1977.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:23 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

So what's the story behind all the signatures on the shuttle's walls? Whose names are they? When were they signed?
posted by stubie at 2:48 PM on September 21, 2012


A year or so ago, I was lucky enough to get to sit in the training shuttle at JSC , which is essentially identical inside - bits get swapped in and out for flights so some elements were replaced with stickers saying "flight hardware".

It was an incredible experience, and one of the things that knocked me out was how primitive it looked, almost like washing machine controls. Regulation NASA pale blue velcro everywhere which was one of my favourite things - something so homely and practical about it, pencils with velcro taped to them, stuck neatly in place. The "Mission Time" counter looked like an old-fashioned electricity meter. We were with a scientist who explained that they replace as little as possible, because testing and changing it is so difficult and expensive.

I never thought about how it would look lit's stunning.

first post ever btw, hi!
posted by tardigrade at 2:52 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

It sailed right past the balcony where I work. I didn't get any pictures, but this guy did. I waved and cried a little, and then when it was out of sight I called my parents.

The emotions took me by surprise.
posted by tangerine at 2:52 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's just too bad about the trees of South LA.

Oh. My. God. That just makes me loathe the Space Shuttle that much more. Obscene. (Unless they were 99% palm trees, in which case I highly approve.)
posted by entropicamericana at 3:01 PM on September 21, 2012

I was a little late for work today, and as I was driving in, all I really noticed at first was the traffic and how slow it was and that I was going to be late and...

...and holy crap that plane's flying low, passing right over the freeway with what looks like a fighter escort and wow it's sure got a funny shape to it... oh.


I'm pretty sure I started grinning from the sheer sight of something that fantastic at just the right moment - it was less than a minute before I couldn't see it anymore.

But you know what was even better? Taking the turnoff into work and seeing people on a usually-deserted overpass, seeing them standing outside their offices and on the sidewalk because they felt there was something important in watching history fly overhead.
posted by mikurski at 3:19 PM on September 21, 2012

Kept by girls out of school today to watch the shuttle go by from one of the hilltops in San Francisco. So amazing.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:29 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's another article about how they went about deciding where to roll the Shuttle and which trees would be removed. There was really no other way to get it there.
posted by dhartung at 4:11 PM on September 21, 2012

Stood on the roof with another neighbor to watch it fly from Chabot Observatory in the Oakland Hills to Berkeley, then watched it come down over the City and back up the bay, and a final time very far away heading south down the Peninsula.

The Space Shuttle is cooler than trees.

More spectacular, definitely. But the Los Angeles basin is dry all summer, and mature trees are worth tens of thousands of dollars. A sapling, even two saplings*, in no way replaces a mature tree in terms of aesthetics, CO2 reduction, temperature mitigation, or wildlife habitat (yes, this is an issue in cities, especially for migratory birds and insects). Cutting down 400 trees is really pretty devastating for those neighborhoods. So yeah, the Shuttle is a great thing to have at the museum and there was no other way to get it where it needs to go, but it's strange to be so blithe about the impact of the tree removal on the people that live in south L.A.

* two baby trees is the minimum state requirement for replacement, due to attrition- it's not really a "bonus", they expect half the replacement trees to die. However residents managed to argue for a better deal from the California Science Museum, including more and larger trees and maintenance for five years, which is huge.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:27 PM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best use of fisheye lens EVAR.
posted by localroger at 5:25 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think city/suburban trees, especially on public property, are pretty amazing, but I have to admit that my first thought is, "Y'all can keep your trees, Houston will gladly host the Endeavor."

Maybe this is just sour grapes on my part, as it still burns that Houston didn't get a shuttle and NY did.
posted by muddgirl at 6:16 PM on September 21, 2012

We had a makeshift "Shittle watching party" this morning. At first, we got excited when it first appeared, but our enthusiasm kinda waned when it became clear that it's path was about 2 or 3 miles away, then it disappeared behind the hills.

Then about 15 minutes later, the roof started shaking, we ran outside and BAM! There it is, about 300 feet above our house!

Pure awesome. Can't wait to see it even closer when it comes to its final home.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:19 PM on September 21, 2012

Stories about giraffes! -that died. Stories about the shuttle! -and trees that it's killed. Metafilter, you're harshing the buzz tonight.

I'd recommend following Cooper on twitter to keep up to date with his work.

Some of my favorite overall pics from this ferry to LA have been the pass over the Hollywood sign. And the photos of Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly watching the flight over Tucson.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:53 PM on September 21, 2012

Just in case, the shuttle carrier has easy-to-follow instructions.

I just got in from out of town and didn't understand why the shuttle watchers were hanging out in their front yards but it creeped me out a it....
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:38 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Man, we used to do such cool things. I mean, the Mars Robots are cool for the pure-science-dork in me, but We Used To Dream. Now all we can do is bitch and gripe for more fucking tax cuts. I hope your $300 piece of the Bush Tax Cuts was worth it for your dreams to die, Mr. Tea Party Man. Mine sure wasn't worth it.
posted by notsnot at 8:33 PM on September 21, 2012

That's 360 degrees of buttons and panels and switches and dials and readouts and.. hey wait a minute, where's the door?
posted by Joh at 9:42 PM on September 21, 2012

Seriously, Joh? The door ("side hatch") is on the mid deck, not the flight deck.
posted by dhartung at 11:03 PM on September 21, 2012

I believe this diagram is of the original layout.

Nice try, but I'm pretty sure that's the controls for the cargo bay doors and the Canadian arm. This shows the original and updated panel of flight instruments.
posted by exogenous at 3:54 AM on September 22, 2012

posted by DigDoug at 2:25 PM on September 22, 2012

What the Space Program Meant
posted by homunculus at 5:31 PM on September 23, 2012

In other news: Unmanned Air Force space plane lands in California by itself
posted by homunculus at 5:33 PM on September 23, 2012

Video of the landing in LA.
posted by HuronBob at 8:11 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I, for one, welcome our robotic overlords.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:55 AM on September 24, 2012

More photos great photos, via The Atlantic. Love this one of Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly. Amazing how many people turned out for the flyover.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:08 PM on September 24, 2012

NASA wants to build a permanent outpost beyond the Moon

Has NASA officially announced this? I've only seen that one newspaper article from the Orlando-Sentinel.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on September 25, 2012

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