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Endeavour which flew its final flight on STS-134 is now in OPF-2 (Orbiter Processing Facility 2) where it is being readied for being turned over to the California Science Museum in September 2012.

Pete Crow in the Commander seat on the flight deck of the Space Shuttle Eneavour on March 7, 2012. The photograph is by Tony Achilles of radio station WPKN in Bridgeport, CT.

As NASA did with the shuttle Discovery, the media was invited to have a look around on March 7, 2012 including visits to the flight deck.

Status of the three surviving orbiters (originally there were 5 — the first two, Columbia and Challenger were lost):

Endeavour — in early stages of preparation for Los Angeles
Discovery — goes to Smithsonian at Dulles Airport April 17, 2012
Atlantis — goes to Kennedy Space Center Visitors’ Center — building to house Atlantis is under construction

The Houston Johnson Space Center will get the shuttle mockup that has been at the Kennedy Space Center. It is on the dock at KSC in front of the Media Site 39 awaiting its barge ride to Galveston, Texas.

New York City will get, or may already have, the shuttle mockup that has been at the Smithsonian Museum at Dulles Airport.

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See my interview with Buddy McKenzie of the Space Alliance standing under the tail of the Endeavour on March 7 below:

DISCUSSION OF THE SHUTTLE TILES and challenges they presented to the NASA ground crews. This runs about five minutes.  Tony Achilles, WPKN in Bridgeport, Connecticut, shot this footage. This clip, which features Pete Crow interviewing Mr. McKenzie can also be found here. More of Mr. Achilles excellent footage of others events can also be found at this link.

NASA invites everyone associated with the shuttle, including the Media, to sign the walls of the White Rooms which will go to Museums. Pete’s signature is at the bottom of the Endeavour White Room wall on your right as you enter.

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.”petecrow/NASA” is jointly copyright © 2012, by Seine/Harbour® Productions, Studio City, CA, and by the Peter Michael Crow Trust.

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One of three engines in lifted and reinstalled in Discover the morning of December 5, 2011. The engines are not the actual engines that flew on Discovery although they look the same.

December 5, 2011 … today the first of the three engines of the Shuttle Discovery (OV-103) was reinstalled on the shuttle. It took about four hours. The other two engines were to be installed later in the week. Discovery will go to the Smithsonian at Dulles Airport, Washington, DC. She is expected to be sent there in April 2012.

Discovery by several estimates is now about 85-percent ready for the museum. In a few weeks she will be entirely ready and then they will figure out how to get her to Washington. Almost certainly she will be flown there on the back of a 747. Shuttles were returned to Florida on the back of one of two NASA Boeing 747s when they landed somewhere else besides Florida.

Discovery is expected to weigh about two-thirds of her fully tricked out flying weight of 190-tons because of all that has been removed from her. The 190-tons was base weight, without payload.
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Engine which is about to be placed back into Engine Slot #1 on the Shuttle Discovery.

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Rear of the Shuttle Discovery from high in OPF-1 (Orbiter Processing Facility #1). There were three OPFs — only two remain now that OPF-3 have been turned over to Boeing. A total of five operational shuttles were built, but because NASA never had more than four at any one time, only three OPFs were needed — one for three of the shuttles, while the fourth shuttle was either in orbit, or in the VAB or on the pad preparing for flight.

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The engine being replaced is in the center of the picture. The back of the shuttle is on the left. The bay doors of OPF-1 are on the right. OPF-1 is just a few yards from the Vehicle Assembly Building. OPF-2 is beside it, and OPF-3 is across the street.

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The tail of the shuttle Discovery is in top center of this photo. The engine, still on the carrier, is in the center of this photograph.

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This panel is on the starboard side, rear, of the shuttle and opens into the back end of the shuttle. Here assistants can help in the installation of the shuttle engines or in their removal.

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This is inside the rear of the shuttle. To the upper left the engine is being installed. A man, with his hand holding onto a railing, is seen in the center left of this picture.

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The engine is nearly installed. This picture was taken a moment after my photograph inside the rear of the shuttle was taken. A white room, where booties are required on feet, and id cards must be surrendered, is adjacent where the cargo bay of the shuttle is located. No one is allowed into OFP-1 with cell phones or any device, such as remote car door openers, which emit an electrical signal.

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This is the cargo bay of the Shuttle Discovery looking toward the front of the shuttle. We are on the starboard side looking toward the port side. With the shuttle program over, few reporters or photographers show up for NASA events. Only 178 registered for the November launch of the Mars Science Laboratory launch. Less than ten expressed interest in spending half a day in OPF-1 watching the engines be replaced — and only 5 photographers and reporters actually showed up.

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The media was given wide access to the shuttle, although they could not step on board. Here Pete Crow lies on his back under the front nose wheel of the shuttle and photographs the underside of the shuttle looking backward toward the tail. And, yes, those are his feet on the bottom right of the picture to give size perspective to this photograph.

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A conference room sits just off the back rear of the shuttle near the large entry doors.

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Entry to the OPFs is tightly controlled. Without a card, you can neither enter nor leave without triggering alarms. As you enter the OPF you are facing a desk where access is further controlled. Moreover, at strategic places, people sit with desks monitoring what tools are passing various points, logging them — and workers — in and out. Foreign objects inadvertently left on board the shuttle could have been fatal in space. This is a side view of the entry point desk. The shuttle is on our left, and the conference room (above) is on our right.

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.”petecrow/NASA” © 2011 by / Peter M. Crow and the Peter Michael Crow Trust and by Seine/Harbour® Productions, LLC, Studio City, California.

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Where will the shuttles go?
How many were built?
How many shuttles survive?
How many mockups were built? — where are they?
What was OV-95? — where did it fly?

Five shuttles were built and three survive. The order in which they came into the fleet is as follows:

COLUMBIA = OV-102 … Columbia broke up as it was preparing to land and was lost, along with its entire crew, over southeastern Texas on February 1, 2003.

CHALLENGER == OV-99 … Challenger broke up and was lost, along with its entire crew, over the Atlantic Ocean shortly after launch on January 28, 1986.

DISCOVERY = OV-103 … the oldest surviving Orbiter will go to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport early in 2012. Currently hazmat materials, useful instruments and other parts that may be of later use are being removed at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Discovery has been in one of three hangars at Kennedy Space Center.

ATLANTIS = OV-104 … the second oldest surviving Orbiter, and the fourth of four originally built, will stay at the Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis will be the final shuttle to fly and is scheduled to be launched on July 8, 2011.

ENDEAVOUR == OV-105 … the youngest in the fleet, and by all accounts in very good shape “with quite a lot of life still left in her”, according to one NASA official. Endeavour will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She completed her final mission on June 1, 2011, landing at KSC at 2:32 am. Endeavour was built as a replacement when The Challenger was lost in 1986 and joined the fleet in 1991.

Where were the shuttles built?
All five shuttles were built in Palmdale, California, south of Edwards Air Force Base where shuttles originally landed during test flights, and on the earliest missions, prior to construction of the SLF (shuttle landinf facility = runway) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Later Edwards, and White Sands, New Mexico, were backup landing sites, and both were occasionally used.

Unlike the original four shuttles, construction of the Endeavour was speeded by availablily of replacement parts for the first four shuttles. Strictly speaking, unlike the first four, Endeavour was not built from scratch.

ENTERPRISE = OV-101 == Isn’t New York City getting a shuttle? —
where did THAT shuttle come from?

New York is getting a shuttle, but then again, it isn’t. New York will get the shuttle, Enterprise, currently on display at the Smithsonian. Enterprise never flew in space, but did fly in Earth atmosphere in test flights. Enterprise will be moved to New York and placed on display there. It’s a shuttle, but it was never an operational shuttle that flew in space, unlike the other three surviving shuttles. The shuttle New York City will get was an important vehicle in the development of the shuttle; it’s not some cardboard cut-out dummy, and it came close to having a life of its own in space not once, but twice. An excellent telling of the Enterprise’s history, and how it nearly became an operation shuttle itself is HERE.

EXPLORER (Mockup) ==
Why didn’t Texas, with Mission Control located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, get a shuttle?

There were only so many to go around and the prevailing thought is: politics: Texas didn’t vote for President Obama in 2008.

The shuttle mockup, Explorer, began its trip to Houston on December 1, 2011. Its name was painted out prior to the move from the Kennedy Visitors Center.

Texas is, however, getting a shuttle mockup.

The Explorer, a high definition shuttle mockup built and on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center, is on its way to Houston. It was moved from the Visitors Center in Florida to Pad 39 Media Parking lot adjacent to the KSC turning basin on December 11, 2011.

It will be shipped by barge to Galveston, and then moved overland to the Johnson Space Center in Spring 2012.

OV-95 = SAIL The Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory Shuttle This was the first shuttle to “fly” although it never flew in space. OV-95 was an exact mechanical replica of the other shuttles and used both to test systems and to fly (on the ground in tandem) beginning with a shuttle lift-off. SAIL was located in Houston. When STS-135 landed, it was broken up, the wiring re-cycled and the remainder discarded.

PATHFINDER (mockup) == (unofficially OV-98) This mockup was used to test road clearances and other non-operational spacial issues related to how the shuttle could and would be moved. At various times, after its use, it was in Japan and Florida and today is in Alabama on display. More about the Pathfinder can be found HERE.

There is logic in where all of the shuttles are going
— but that logic only goes so far:

Endeavour: The shuttles were built just north of Los Angeles so they get Endeavour

Atlantis: the shuttles were launched from KSC so they get Atlantis

Discovery: The Smithsonian always gets the premier aircraft, as they should, so they get Discovery, the oldest survivor in the fleet.

And then there’s New York City.

How did they manage to get a shuttle, albeit not an operational shuttle? Three shuttles on the east coast and one on the west? None in the midwest? Well, New York DID vote for Obama in 2008 … and …

More on the OV (“Orbiter Vehicle”) designation number can be found HERE.

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