The Assembly of Space Shuttle Discovery
April 3, 2008 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Nice post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:07 AM on April 3, 2008

Very, very cool. Thanks!
posted by dbiedny at 8:10 AM on April 3, 2008

I've seen these posted sometime last year somewhere but not here. Amazing.

posted by chillmost at 8:14 AM on April 3, 2008

Awesome. I had no idea the payload compartment was separate like that but I guess it makes sense. The woman installing the engine while talking on her cell phone is kind of troubling. I can only hope she’s discussing engine installation.

I know the shuttle has been a huge money hog and floating around 100 miles up doesn’t offer much to inspire today’s youth or expand our presence in the solar system but god dammit it’s still one of the coolest things ever.

Still, I’m disappointed in the lack of bacon in these photos.
posted by bondcliff at 8:16 AM on April 3, 2008

For some reason, I really, really want her job.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:17 AM on April 3, 2008

So, they load the payload package into the payload bay right on the launch pad? I wonder if they've ever had a seagull or some other critter get in there and go along for the ride.
posted by teg at 8:17 AM on April 3, 2008

They used to have a man doing this job but they finally got tired of him yelling WAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOO and throwing his hat around.
posted by DU at 8:19 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

That shuttle crawler is the largest vehicle in the world.
posted by delmoi at 8:22 AM on April 3, 2008


For some reason, I really, really want her job.

Gotta start young, and work your way up.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:25 AM on April 3, 2008

My favorite part is how small the shuttle stack is in the VAB.

(Incidentally, I was googling "shuttle stack", and I got this page at NASA, which is bewildering.)
posted by smackfu at 8:25 AM on April 3, 2008

Delmoi, it's been outdone.
posted by bondcliff at 8:29 AM on April 3, 2008

I like how they just haul the shuttle up on a big strap. I can picture the guys at the top: heaveHO...heaveHO.
posted by DU at 8:30 AM on April 3, 2008

On the tour of the Kennedy Space Centre they told us that the stripes on the flag on the side of the VAB are wide enough to drive a bus down. And I remember reading somewhere it's so big, clouds can form inside it.
posted by jontyjago at 8:32 AM on April 3, 2008

Nice post. Too bad most of those folks will be out of a job when the shuttle is retired in 2010.
posted by Standeck at 8:36 AM on April 3, 2008

The woman installing the engine while talking on her cell phone is kind of troubling.

Good enough for government work?

Looks more like she has headphones, really.
posted by zennie at 8:48 AM on April 3, 2008

Sometime around 1966 I toured Cape Kennedy, as it was then known, and was inside the VAB. I think I remember something about it being possible that rain could occur inside of the VAB under certain conditions. History of the VAB

Very good post, BTW.
posted by Rafaelloello at 8:56 AM on April 3, 2008

Oh, so that's where that part goes. It all makes sense now.

Excellent. Mine should be finished sometime next week.
posted by quin at 9:05 AM on April 3, 2008

Looks more like she has headphones, really

Agreed, I would guess some kind of hearing protection with a radio built into it.

posted by quin at 9:06 AM on April 3, 2008

great pics. Think I've seen them somewhere before as well. I just wonder if taking, or even posting them, these days would'nt qualify you for a Gitmo vacation.
posted by timsteil at 9:09 AM on April 3, 2008

Holy fuselage!

All of a sudden, building the Enterprise in Star Trek seems a lot more attainable.
posted by disgruntled at 9:11 AM on April 3, 2008

I'd love some more extensive pictures of the process where they encapsulate the Shuttle unit in The Shuttle Processing Facility. Its almost like they lose the form of the thing in all of its support gantries, catwalks, cables and electronics. Watching them install, work on and then tease all of that stuff out of the Shuttle over time would be pretty darn cool.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:15 AM on April 3, 2008

Actually, that Payload Carrier deal doesn't go right into the Shuttle. It mimics the inside of the payload bay. The big piece it was being lifted into on the Pad (the "Rotating Service Structure") swings around and clamps onto the Orbiter. They open the payload bay doors and move the payload from the carrier into the actual shuttle. The whole inside of that big room is a cleanroom, so no real worries about seagulls and the like.

(Though I do remember a mission a year or so ago, where they got worried about debris hits on the wings, which turned out to be bird poop from the pad...)
posted by zap rowsdower at 9:27 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

The woman installing the engine while talking on her cell phone is kind of troubling.

You can actually see the taut coiled cord off to the left of her. My best guess is that she's communicating with the guy inside the engine compartment to make sure everything's lined up properly.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:27 AM on April 3, 2008

Whoah - Discovery's lookin' pretty long in the tooth, isn't she?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:27 AM on April 3, 2008

This post revitalized my love for the tangible aspect of space travel- the rocketry, the gizmos, the sheer size of the constructions that represent our determination to just get out there. Never mind the whole (literal) universe of possibility that awaits.
posted by pedmands at 9:42 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's things like the fact that there is such a thing as the Space Shuttle that remind me that I live in the future.

That and the fact that I have the internet on my phone. On my PHONE! for Christ's sake!

No wires, even!
posted by Pecinpah at 9:50 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Same here Pecinpah. This post reinvigorated my awe at the things human beings can accomplish when they work together.
posted by autodidact at 9:59 AM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

And here's a picture of one of my best friends inside the payload bay of the Discovery. She helps design and install projects that go in there--you know, she actually turns screws and stuff. She's pretty smart.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:26 AM on April 3, 2008

Needs more machine code.
posted by Eideteker at 11:41 AM on April 3, 2008

It's odd -- I can look at the alive/dead photos of the terminally ill without blinking, read about the American Justice Department rotting from within and merely sigh, but when I look at stuff like this I weep like a baby. We're really fucking small, you know that? Really, really small. And these pictures, with their giant machines and lifetrained technicians really just represent our tiny little hands reaching out of the crib. Like a baby. Dammit.

I hope I live to meet another civilization.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:49 AM on April 3, 2008

Doh. Websense blocks photobucket. ("Personal Network Storage and Backup."
posted by kuperman at 11:52 AM on April 3, 2008

Seeing those pictures and how they show the scale of the shuttle reminds me of the seventies impala I learned to drive in.
posted by srboisvert at 12:41 PM on April 3, 2008

Awesome post.

If you're ever in St. Augustine, Florida on a very clear day, take a trip to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse, and if you squint, you can see the VAB as an ominous black dot on the horizon to your south, 100 MILES AWAY. Never gets old.
posted by saladin at 1:21 PM on April 3, 2008

Very cool post. Many thanks.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 1:44 PM on April 3, 2008

Real boy stuff. Thanks.
posted by VicNebulous at 2:15 PM on April 3, 2008

The woman installing the engine while talking on her cell phone is kind of troubling.

I googled around for a transcript and found this:

Righty tighty. Lefty loosey. OK. Got it.
posted by dhartung at 4:00 PM on April 3, 2008

Apollo weeps for his lost children.

"Every age has its dreams, its symbols of romance. Past generations were moved by the graceful power of the great windjammer, by the distant whistle of locomotives pounding through the night, by the caravans leaving on the Golden Road to Samarkand, and by the quinquiremes of Nineveh from distant Ophir . . . Our grandchildren will likewise have their inspiration--among the equatorial stars." - Arthur C. Clarke
posted by blue_beetle at 4:23 PM on April 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

They won't be out of work after the Shuttle program ends. The VAB will be prime real estate for Bush's push to get back to the moon. Some call it Apollo on steroids.
posted by Gungho at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2008

Boy stuff? Nah, it's equal opportunity cool. When I was 8, I wrote that I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. It's still true, though really what I want to be is a space colonist.

And, speaking of Bush and his plans for NASA, I was once stopped in a mall and asked for my opinion on Bush. I explained I wasn't his biggest fan (this was back in 2003. before this was such a common response), but they persisted and explained they wanted my opinion on his intentions for the space program. Oh, the space program! I can get behind that. I'm still no fan of Bush's, but I do back the space program he's proposed...only good idea the man ever had while President.
posted by librarylis at 2:33 AM on April 8, 2008

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