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Archive for the ‘space shuttle’ Category

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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A collection of NASA’s stunning photographs from the final shuttle mission, STS-135. They are reproduced here in largest size — click to enlarge. You are free to use the NASA photos in this post, but NASA requests you credit NASA if you do.

The final moments in the Shuttle program. Shuttle Atlantis settles onto Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center 6 am, July 21, 2011. This is the back of the shuttle.


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This is seconds after the shuttle has landed ... note, the parachute is deployed and the shuttle is rapidly slowly. Shuttles land about 190-210 miles an hour. An hour earlier, just before beginning its de-orbit burn on the other side of the world, often over the Indian Ocean, the shuttle is moving 17,900 miles an hour.


Down and safe for the final time, Atlantis is rolling out on Runway 15. This photograph was taken just after Atlantis' parachute was jettisoned. The 15 (northern) end of the runway was brightly lit in order to get photos of the shuttle landing. This photograph was taken from the southern end of the runway, looking north up the runway toward the 15 end.


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Pad 39-A, morning of the final launch, July 21, 2011. The now-torn-down Pad 39-B, from which shuttles were also launched, is in the top of the picture, toward the left.


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Press Complex 39, the morning of the final launch. Many media spent the entire night at the Cape sleeping in their cars, although few believed (incorrectly) that the launch would go that day. About 3,000 media were accredited for the launch, exceeding 2,200 for the final Moon mission in 1972. Of the 3,000 accredited, fewer than 10 went to Houston to cover the ten days of the mission itself.

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A contest was held to design a crest for the entire shuttle program. This was the crest selected and it was then placed on commemorative pins and other memorabilia.

Each of the 135 missions had its own crest and, at the completion of each mission, the crest was affixed in a ceremony to the wall of the Launch Control Firing Room from which the shuttle was launched in Florida, and on the Mission Control Center room in Houston from which the mission was controlled.

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The control tower at Ellington Field is visible through a maze of tv cameras Friday afternoon, July 22, 2011, in Houston. The STS-135 astronauts have returned to their homes in Houston and are being welcomed by nearly a thousand people inside NASA Hangar 990.

This is the final event in STS-135 mission, and only one event remains in the 30-year history of the shuttle program — a celebration at Johnson Space Center in late August which will be August 20 or August 27, 2011.

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Hangar to VAB to Launch to Space & back

Shuttles always returned on landing to one of four hangars which were offically known as Orbiter Processing Facility 1, 2, 3 and 4. In the OPF the shuttle was serviced, repaired as necessary and readied again to fly in space.


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Movement of the shuttle first was from the OPF to the Vehicle Assembly building several hundred yards away. This movement was called "the rollover" and took several hours.


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The shuttle was transported on a carrier that was driven by a driver. Entering the VAB the shuttle was in the Transit Aisle, a room which extends to the top of the VAB more than 500 feet and 40 stories high.


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Carol Anne Swagler's Shuttle photograph from a 16th floor catwalk in the VAB. As lifting of the shuttle begins, the shuttle seems to takes flight. Once she is upright, she hangs above the Transit Aisle for hours.


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On the Transit Aisle, the shuttle is harnessed and then turned on end. It is allowed to hang there for hours until it completely settles and stops swaying. Then it is slowly lifted 500-feet to the ceiling on the VAB.


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Pete Crow's Shuttle photograph showing the Atlantis after being moved directly over the 5-story high Crawler/Transporter in VAB High Bay 1. This photo was taken from a catwalk on the 16th floor of the VAB.


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The most difficult and occasionally time-consuming step in the "Lift (the shuttle) to Mate (the shuttle with the Transporter/Crawler) is lowering the shuttle precisely onto the Crawler to enable its being secured onto the Crawler/Transporter. Once the shuttle is secure, the Crawler begins moving out of the VAB, as shown here, toward the Launch Pad at the rate of 1 mile and hour.


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Once outside the VAB, the Crawler turns onto the Crawler way, two strips on Alabama river rock separated by a green center median. The Crawler way leads to both Pad 39-A and Pad 39-B, branching several miles down the Crawlerway. In the final missions only Pad 39-A was used. Pad 39-B was torn down and demolished in May and June 2011 to begin to prepare it for Constellation, the next US manned space program. President Obama canceled Constellation after millions had been spent, but the outcry was so great he reinstated it. More money was spent and then Mr. Obama canceled it again. All that remains is a 1960s-esq capsule that resembles Apollo called Orion. Orion is a capsule without a rocket to get it into space and no one will say when a rocket for it will be announced.


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The Crawler is five stories high. To gauge the size of it look for the man in this picture besides the track (bottom center). For many years NASA invited selected members of the press to walk with the Crawler from the VAB to the Pad. As the program neared an end, the shuttles were commonly moved at night and it was deemed too dangerous to allow the media to walk with the shuttle any longer.


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Carol Anne Swagler, Grove Sun Daily, walks far ahead of the shuttle and stands on one of the twin rock highways on which the shuttle traveled. The Crawler and shuttle were so heavy the rocks on the highway were crushed each time and had to be replaced. Nothing about the shuttle program was easy or inexpensive.


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Pete Crow and the Shuttle Atlantis days before her final July 8, 2011 launch. Once at the Pad, the payload for the shuttle is brought to the pad and lifted up onto the Rotating Service Structure, directly behind Pete Crow. The payload for STS-135 is in the white rectangular box over his left shoulder. When ready, the shuttle's payload doors are opened and the RSS is rotated until it covers the shuttle. The payload is then secured in the shuttle's bay.


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The RSS remains mated with the shuttle until about 18 hours before launch. Then it is retracted -- rotated more than 90-degrees leaving the shuttle alone on the pad, and ready to be fueled about 9 hours before launch.


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The RSS has been fully retracted and the shuttle is ready to be launched. This is Endeavour awaiting launch on STS-134, the second to last shuttle mission. Retraction is a popular press event unless it rains. Few photographed the retraction of the final shuttle mission, STS-135, on the afternoon of July 7, 2011 because the time for retraction was repeatedly shifted due to weather, and because weather at the Pad was often a driving rain and it was muddy. Retraction was more easily enjoyed by watching it on NASA-TV from the comfort of the Pad 39 Press site.


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Kennedy Space Center adjoins a wildlife sanctuary, Merritt Island, on the eastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Dawn here is often beautiful as it was on the blustery morning of July 8, 2011, when Pete took this photograph of the Atlantis on Pad 39-A.


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Pete Crow shuttle Atlantis photograph from the roff of the Vehicle Assembly Building seconds after lift-off. There are only a handful of photographers allowed on the VAB roof for safety reasons, but Seine/Harbour® and The Grove Sun, Grove, Oklahoma, were granted two of the less than 40 spaces on July 8, 2011.


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This is Endeavour being launched on STS-134 on May 16, 2011. The view is 22 seconds into the launch and was taken at the Media Press site. It shows a strikingly different perspective than the picture directly above taken from the VAB roof. Once launched the astronauts are in subjected to three+ G's (three times the weight of gravity). It doesn't last long. Eight minutes after launch the shuttle is over Africa and in space. And the astronauts are weightless.


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Later shuttle missions lasted 12 to 14 days. The shuttle has to watch its energy reserves which drive the electrical which drives its computers. Generally, the shuttle undocks two days before landing from the International Space Station (ISS) then re-configures its orbits for landing in Florida. Landing begins with a de-orbit burn on the other side of the world, commonly over the Indian Ocean. Once the de-orbit burn is exectued about 60 minutes from landing, the shuttle has no where else to go except to the tiny Shuttle Landing Facility (runway) at Kennedy Space Center. This photo, taken by Pete, is of the final landing of Discovery and was taken on the northern end of the runway.


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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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STS-135 Mission Patch

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NASA-TV does a superb job of providing on-going 24/7 coverage from the Mission Control Center, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

To quickly access their site, go HERE.
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Current header Photograph. International Space Station from docking hatch of the Shuttle Atlantis during docking. ISS is about 600 feet from the Atlantis as they fly in tandem. It is 10:02 am EDT (9:02 am CDT – Houston), Sunday, July 10, 2011. The shuttle is 1 hour, six minutes, from docking with the ISS at the time of this photograph. (NASA-TV Photo)

Sunday morning, July 10, 2011, Space Shuttle Atlantis (officially OV-104) overtook and docked with the International Space Station (ISS). These following views are of Mission Control, Houston, during that approach and docking, and renderings of the approach of how Atlantis approaches and docks to the ISS.

Photographs here are of the actual docking, some from a camera on the Atlantis of the docking area on the ISS.

All photographs below are courtesy NASA-TV


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Pete Crow STS-135 photograph from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building, 11:28 EDT, July 8, 2011. The full sequence of these photographs and those of Carol Anne Swagler will be posted later.


Among the stories and photographs that will be posted are …

1. STS-135 Launch, additional photographs from roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building showing, in sequence, the Launch of the Shuttle Atlantis, OV-04.

STS-135 Mission Patch

2. Days 2 and 3 prior to Launch — this includes briefings on upcoming NASA unmanned launches, visits to the SpaceX launch pad and firing room and much more.

3. Houston, Days 7 and 8 before Launch — this includes inside of the Shuttle Flight Simulators where astronauts trained (now dismantled), Shuttle OV-95 (to be dismantled after landing of STS-135), the International Space Station and Soyuz mockups, and briefing on NASA scientific and technical programs, including the newest Off-Earth Rover vehicle and Robotnaut, the robot now on the ISS which can perform many of the duties currently performed by the 6 astronauts on the ISS.

4. Houston Mission Control — STS-135 mission, Houston’s Johnson Space Center, Monday, July 11 to STS-135’s expected landing in Florida on the morning of July 20.

5. Apollo 13 and STS-107 Artifacts on display at JSC and KSC, including the Apollo 13 Panel which lit up (“Houston, we have a problem …”) and the flight recorder recovered from Columbia/STS-107.
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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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Go fly! … here’s where, hopefuly, it will happen Friday morning.

Here’s a quick visit to Firing Room #4 from where STS-135 will be launched, and from which the previous 20 shuttle missions, have been launched. At lift-off, control of the shuttle immediately passes from the Launch Control Center at Kennedy Space Center, to the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center, Houston.

NASA has four firing rooms in the Launch Control Center. The most modern is Firing Room #4 where all recent launches have been conducted. This view is toward the back wall of the Firing Room. The large windows are directly behind us.


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On the right are the windows, and in the middle and left are the consoles. Those working at consoles, including the Flight Director, all sit with their backs to the windows and never see the actual launch. A VIP room is beyond the glassed in area in upper center of this photograph. The VIP room is between Firing Rooms 3 and 4.


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The view from Firing Room #4 of the launch pads, 39A (right) and 39B. Pad 39B (B has been torn down; not A) has been torn down.


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The Launch Control Center (LCC) sits just to the left of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Alongside the VAB its appears low and flat. The LCC is just across the road from the media press site (out of view further on left). Firing Room #4 is behind the windows on the far left. Firing Rooms 2 and 3 are behind the larger center window. Firing Room #1 is on the right hand side of the LCC.


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This is Firing Room #3. Firing Room #3 launched many of the earlier KSC launches, including shuttle flights, and several of the Apollo Moon missions. In contrast to the sleekly modern Firing Room #4, Firing Room #3 has a distinctly 1960s Buck Rogers charm.


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Before each launch the children of the astronauts make a white board wishing the astronauts well. These white boards are preserved and displayed at different places at KSC. This whiteboard, from STS-107, hangs in the central foyer of the Launch Control Center. After each launch, the NASA launch team gathers here and dines.


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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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Looking for good news about weather on July 8, 2011? Ms. Kathy Winters, Shuttle Weather Officer, predicted a small chance that weather would allow a Friday launch.

As early as Monday, July 4, anyone looking at the long range weather schedule had doubts that NASA would be able to launch Atlantis on Friday morning, July 8, 2011.

By Tuesday, the chances of launching remained at 60-percent, according to Kathy Winter, NASA’s weather officer who heads a team of 40 at KSC. Not good, not bad.

By Wednesday morning, July 6, 2011, when NASA held a Prelaunch Press Conference at the media site at the Kennedy Space Center, Ms Winters was rating the chance of favorable weather at a measly 30-percent. The other members of the launch team, Mike Moses, Mission Management Team chairman and Shuttle Launch Integration manager, and Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director, considered the shuttle ready to go. “Clear tracks to lift off.”

Except for the weather. A big “except”, indeed.

By Wednesday, Mr. Leinbach and Mr. Moses were waxing philosophical. “I’m feeling good about Friday,” Mr. Moses said. “It could be raining everywhere, but if we’ve got a hole and a 20-mile radius, we’re going.” That’s a big “if”.

“Typical July,” Ms. Winters added.

Would they tank the shuttle if the weather was iffy? Tanking begins about ten hours before launch. “We’ve tanked with a 90-percent no-go, and launched,” Mr. Moses said. “We’ve tanked with an 80-percent go, and been unable to launch.”

So … will the weather cooperate? Will Atlantis arc skyward in its narrow launch window on Friday morning, July 8?

Don’t bet on it. The weather briefing at 1 am Friday morning, when tanking is scheduled to begin, will be the next significant marker deciding whether the Atlantis goes on Friday or not.

Stay tuned.

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VAB from where CNN will broadcast the STS-135 launch at the JSC media site in Florida.

Houston to The Cape, July 1, 2011
Finishing the pre-launch briefings in Houston, and having flown the shuttle simulators on July 1, Carol Anne and I flew back to Orlando Saturday morning, July 2, leaving our car near Johnson Space Center in a hotel parking lot.

Guests for the 4th of July were arriving.

On Monday morning, we set out for the Cape to get our press credentials for the STS-135 mission. KSC has two badging offices, one on the causeway, and another on State Route 3. I had guessed that they would be badging on the causeway. Wrong. With 2,400 media already accredited, and more coming all the time, NASA badging at the Route 3 media office. Probably smart given the volume of credentials.

Displays, electronic broadcasting gear, even tents, windows and doors all were waiting to be set up on the afternoon of L-4, (L=Launch; 4= 4 days; L-4: Launch minus 4 days).

The office was open only a couple of hours on the 4th of July, so we arrived early expecting little activitiy. Wrong again. The office was busy, although within a few minutes we had been badged and were on our way.

At the press site, there were also a number of people milling around. Tents were set up, and displays were being erected. This was the final mission and lots of contractors were going to politick the large amount of media who were showing up.

I walked through and picked up the briefing paperwork, was told there was a 60-percent chance of launching on Friday, and checked in to see whether I wuld be given access to certain area during the launch. I got a non-committal answer. “I’ll make that decision about two hours before launch.” He smiled. I smiled. That usually means I’m in — but given the crush this time, I might not be.

By early afternoon we were back to Celebration, and in the evening watching fireworks and dining with friends. The evening would be the last quiet time we are likely to have for several weeks.

Each day before a launch, and each day a shuttle is on orbit, a countdown clock on the highways leading into the space center are updated. When the shuttle is on orbit, this sign (reversible) reads "X Days to Landing"

The countdown clock starts tomorrrow (July 5: L-3). There are two briefings Tuesday, July 5, 2011, in the morning and at noon, and then, Wednesday, an entire day of briefings starting at 8 am.

If the shuttle goes on Friday morning, July 8 — and it won’t, I’m certain — I fly back to Houston and will cover the mission from there until shortly before landing. Then I fly back to Florida, watch the landing, and fly back to Houston that evening where I’ll cover the astronauts arrival home and have been promised access to the JSC Mission Control Center.

Hopefully, it’ll all be over shortly before the end of the month, and I’ll be on to other endeavors.

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