Delicate Operation Underway for Endeavour
California Science Center Prepares to Install Payload in Space Shuttle
Los Angeles, October 6, 2014 - Millions of people witnessed space shuttle Endeavour's flight over California landmarks and her 12-mile, 68-hour journey through city streets to her final destination in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center. It was a historical event and comprised the first stage of Mission 26.
There are three more stages leading up to her lift into the vertical launch position in 2018; Go for Payload, Go for Stack and Go for Launch. Each stage is distinguished by a unique set of challenges and will take its respective place in space shuttle history. During the next stage, called Go for Payload, the Science Center will install Endeavour’s final payload, a configuration similar to the STS-118 mission, consisting of a flown SPACEHAB and other equipment. The delicate operation will take place from now to October 21, 2014. The Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Pavilion will be open and the Go for Payload process will be on view to the public with some restrictions, from web cams placed near the shuttle. The Samuel Oschin Pavilion will be completely closed for a few days at the beginning and end of the process to ensure public safety.
This will be the first time the payload bay doors of an operational orbiter have been opened anywhere except at the Kennedy Space Center or the Palmdale assembly facility. The doors are made of very lightweight composite material and were not designed to be operated on Earth under its gravitational influence. As a result, it requires specific equipment and procedures to operate safely. This will also be the last time a payload is installed in a space shuttle.
“This installation will provide guests the opportunity to see the inside of the payload bay when it’s on display in the launch position in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which is currently in the design phase. Being able to see inside the shuttle is essential for Endeavour’s enduring mission of advancing science learning,” notes California Science Center President Jeffrey N. Rudolph.
He added that, “the California Science Center Foundation is making steady progress on its $250 million EndeavourLA fundraising campaign, which will help to create the new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers.” Members of the public can make a donation online at www.EndeavourLA.org , or become part of Team Endeavour and sponsor a thermal protection system tile with a donation starting at $1,000.
The payload bay configuration being installed resembles the payload carried on STS-118 when teacher and astronaut Barbara Morgan and her fellow crew members conducted numerous education programs involving students on the ground and also continued assembly of the International Space Station.
This will be the only chance to see the inside of the payload bay for several years. After the payload is installed, the doors will be closed until Go for Launch, stage four of Mission 26, when Endeavour is moved to her new home, and is lifted into vertical assembly - another step closer to the opening of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center in 2018.
Dennis R. Jenkins, Project Director, Phase III notes, “We’ve acquired all of the payload items (real and replica). In an extremely unusual move, and showing exactly how important our future display is to the air and space museum world, the Smithsonian allowed us to remove several parts from Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum to support our payload installation. We are very grateful to the Smithsonian for allowing us to acquire them and their continuing support.”
Items to be installed during Go for Payload include:
- Flown SPACEHAB (Flight Unit 3). [FU3 flew on STS-79, STS-81, STS-84, STS-86, STS-89, STS-96, STS-101, and STS-106, although always as part of a Double Module, never as a Single Module, which is how the Science Center will show it]
- Replica External Airlock and Orbiter Docking System
- Replica Tunnel Adapter (what connects the airlock to the SPACEHAB to allow the crew to move between them)
- Replica Shuttle Remote Manipulator System arm (Canadarm) including end effector and elbow camera
- Replica payload bay cameras (A, B, C, and D - all four corners of the payload bay)
- More than 7,000 feet of wiring will also be installed, allowing the Science Center to light the interior of the payload bay, flight deck, and middeck. The wire was graciously donated by Alpha Wire.
Following are descriptions of the other two stages that will prepare Endeavour for its final display in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center:
Go for Stack
In late 2017, the California Science Center will begin preparing Endeavour to move to her permanent home in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. The exhibit operations team will begin assembling a set of real solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and a replica external tank (ET) to meet California seismic requirements in preparation to display Endeavour in the launch position. Once the SRBs and ET are complete, they will move Endeavour to the site of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, on the east end of the existing Science Center, and mate the orbiter with the rest of the stack. This will be the only time an operational orbiter has been mated with a launch stack anywhere except the Kennedy Space Center. Dennis Jenkins points out that “We have been chasing parts all over the country for the past two years. To attach Endeavour to the external tank requires massive structural pieces that NASA manufactured in New Orleans. Unfortunately, these pieces were destroyed on every mission since the external tank was not recovered and burned up during re-entry. Luckily, one un-flown external tank (ET-94) remains at the Michoud Assembly Facility and NASA was supportive in donating the hardware to us. In addition, we needed to find specialized bolts, nuts, and washers, some weighing up to 20 pounds.”
Go for Launch
After Endeavour is attached to the launch stack, it will be carefully positioned, then raised to vertical inside the new building using specialized transporters and one of the world’s largest crawler cranes. This procedure requires the knowledge and expertise of dozens of engineers and technicians as well as large cranes.
About the Science Center
The California Science Center is a dynamic destination, located in Exposition Park in Los Angeles, where families, adults and children can explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, innovative programs and awe-inspiring films. Its mission is as follows:” We aspire to stimulate curiosity and inspire science learning in everyone by creating fun, memorable experiences, because we value science as an indispensable tool for understanding our world, accessibility and inclusiveness, and enriching people’s lives.”
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