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WEATHER  (again) POSTPONES SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR FERRY FLIGHT — FLIGHT WILL BE NO EARLIER THAN WEDNESDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 19, 2012

(Text of Advisory to Media waiting at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 3pm Monday, September 17, 2012):

CLICK to ENLARGE // Cockpit, SCA on ground at KSC, September 17, 2012

“NASA managers have postponed the ferry flight of space shuttle Endeavour to Wednesday, Sept. 19.The decision was made to ensure a safe flight for Endeavour and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

A low pressure front in the northern Gulf of Mexico is generating thunderstorms along the predicted flight path. Managers will hold another weather briefing at 11 a.m. Tuesday.”

This is the second day in which weather along the route of the 747-100 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft N905NA was deemed too risky to send the Endeavour west.

The Shuttle was mounted piggyback onto the 747-100 in two stages on Frday, September 14, and Saturday, September 15, 2012.

NASA added the additional Advisory to Media at 7:30pm EDT, September 17:

SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR FERRY FLIGHT RESCHEDULED TO SEPT. 19

WASHINGTON — NASA’s ferry flight of space shuttle Endeavour atop the
747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) is rescheduled for Wednesday,
Sept. 19 due to an unfavorable weather forecast along the flight path
on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Endeavour now is expected to arrive at Los
Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Friday, Sept. 21.

On Oct. 11, 2011, NASA transferred title and ownership of Endeavour to
the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The decision to
reschedule the flight was made Monday in coordination with the
science center to ensure a safe flight for Endeavour and the SCA.
Weather predictions are favorable Wednesday for the flight path
between Houston and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where the flight
will originate.

CLICK to ENLARGE The Mate/Demate device is located on the souheastern end of the Shuttle Landing Facility. The shuttle is driven in, then lifted allowing the 747 to be towed in beneath it. Then the shuttle is lowered onto the back of the 747-100 and secured. The process was successfully used for almost 40 years beginning with the early test flights. The primary 747-100, purchased in 1974, had been in commercial use by American Airlines before being acquired by NASA.

In cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, the SCA is
scheduled to conduct low-level flyovers at about 1,500 feet above
locations along the planned flight path. The exact timing and path of
the ferry flight will depend on weather conditions and operational
constraints. Some planned flyovers or stopovers could be delayed or
cancelled. If the ferry flight is postponed again, an additional
advisory will be issued.

At sunrise on Sept. 19, the SCA and Endeavour will depart Kennedy’s
Shuttle Landing Facility and perform a flyover of various areas of
the Space Coast, including Kennedy, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor
Complex, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base.

The aircraft will fly west and conduct low flyovers of NASA’s Stennis
Space Center in Mississippi and the agency’s Michoud Assembly
Facility in New Orleans. As it arrives over the Texas Gulf Coast
area, the SCA will perform low flyovers above various areas of
Houston and Clear Lake before landing at Ellington Field near NASA’s
Johnson Space Center.

At sunrise on Thursday, Sept. 20, the aircraft will depart Houston,
make a refueling stop at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas, and
conduct low-level flyovers of White Sands Test Facility near Las
Cruces, N.M., and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air
Force Base in California, before landing around mid-day at Dryden.

Options for the NASA Social at Dryden are being evaluated. Attendees
for the event will be notified by the NASA social media team once
plans are decided.

On the morning of Sept. 21, the SCA and Endeavour will take off from
Dryden and perform a low-level flyover of northern California,
passing near NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.,
and various landmarks in multiple cities, including Sacramento and
San Francisco. The aircraft also will conduct a flyover of many Los
Angeles sites before landing about 11 a.m. PDT at LAX.

Social media users are encouraged to share their Endeavour sightings
using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour’s orbiter
vehicle designation.

After arrival at LAX, Endeavour will be removed from the SCA and spend
a few weeks at a United Airlines hangar undergoing preparations for
transport and display. Endeavour then will travel through Inglewood
and Los Angeles city streets on a 12-mile journey from the airport to
the science center, arriving in the evening on Oct. 13.

Beginning Oct. 30, the shuttle will be on display in the science
center’s Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion,
embarking on its new mission to commemorate past achievements in
space and educate and inspire future generations of explorers.

Endeavour completed 25 missions, spent 299 days in orbit, and orbited
Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles.

For information about NASA’s transfer of space shuttles to museums,
visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/transition

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On September 14, 2012, the Shuttle Endeavour was rolled from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the Shuttle Landing Facility (runway) and mated piggyback to NASA’s 707-100 for its ride to Los Angeles beginning Monday morning, September 17, 2012. The Media had to be at the media site by 3:30 am. This picture was taken shortly after the Endeavour had been rolled out of the VAB at 5:15 am.

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Endeavour was towed to the mating device on right. The towing took less than two hours. The Mating Crew arrived at 7 am. This was the final time a shuttle would be mated to a NASA 747-100. The 747, which arrived in Florida earlier in the week, was parking on the tarmac, just out of view to the left.

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Once in the mating device, the Endeavour is attached a slings (yellow). First the nose is lifted, as shown in this picture, then the entire shuttle is raised allowing the 747 to drive in underneath the shuttle. Endeavour is the second of the surviving three NASA shuttles to be sent to a museum. Each shuttle weighs a somewhat different amount. Endeavour, after prepping for the California Science Center, is the lightest of the three. It weighs 155 tons.

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Piggybacking a shuttle to a 747 is an exacting business. NASA officials advised that this final mating would take about 12 hours, similar to the lift-to-mate process when the shuttles were placing on the crawler/transporters in the VAB (see photos of that process elsewhere in this Blog). Weather hastened the process on September 12, 2012, however. Endeavour was rolled out of the VAB at 5 am, and loosely secured to the 747 by 1:30 pm. Final tightening down of Endeavour onto the back of the 747 was left to the following day, September 15, 2012.

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Once the shuttle is secured to the straps, it is lifted and the 747 is towed into the mating device directly under the shuttle. Crews then slowly lower the shuttle onto the 747’s back. This mating of shuttle with the NASA 747-100s was used for more than 35 years without mishap from the beginning of flight tests of the shuttles in the mid-1970s through this final mating.

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The mating is complete. Once the shuttle is completely secured to the 747, a process that was completed the following day, the 747 with shuttle attached was scheduled to be backed out of the mating device early Sunday morning, September 16, 2012. Then, the following morning, the 747 was scheduled to depart Kennedy Space Center at first light, circling KSC and nearby beaches in a final good-bye. Then Endeavour and the 747 headed west, first overflying NASA’s Stennis facility in Mississippi (where the shuttle main engines are now stored) and landing at Ellington AFB south of Houston. The following days Endeavour would fly to El Paso, Edwards Air Force Base, California, and overfly northern California before landing at Los Angeles International Airport on September 20, 2012 (if all goes well).

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Flow Manager Stephanie Stilson (right) talks to a media representative with the 747-100 in the background. Ms. Stilson has been a flow manager overseeing preparation of the shuttles for space for 12 years, and has overseen the preparation of all three shuttles for the museums. With Endeavour going to Los Angeles, only Atlantis remains at KSC. Atlantis is scheduled to go to the KSC Visitors Center on November 2, 2012. Then Ms. Stilson will spend a year at NASA headquarters on a different project beginning in December.

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NASA had two 747s which they used to carry the Space Shuttles. The primary 747-100 (N905NA)was acquired from American Airlines and its internal structure strengthened in 1974. A second 747-100 (N911NA) was purchased from Japan Airlines in 1989 and was a shorter range carrier. These aircraft in NASA-speak were “SCAs”, or Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Both were parked at Edwards Airforce Base north of Los Angeles when not in use. N911NA has now been retired. N905NA is on its final flights. When it delivers the Endeavour to Los Angeles International Airport (scheduled for September 20, 2012), this airplane will be flown back to Edwards, parked and taken out of service. It is now expected that this airplane will be canibalized and not used again. No one has indicated any interest in saving her in a museum.

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NASA Flight Engineer Henry Taylor stands in front of the 747-100 on Wednesday morning, September 12, 2012, on the tarmac at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Taylor has flown the NASA 747-100s as a flight engineer for three decades, and he was flight engineer when NASA took delivery of the Endeavour. On Tuesday, September 11, 2012, he was flight engineer on the final eastward flight of NASA’s N905NA 747-100. He will remain flight engineer as this aircraft flies the Endeavour west to Los Angeles on what will be the last flight for both the Endeavour, and for NASA’s 747-100 SCA.

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Pilot Jeff Moultrie, here and directly above, spoke with media on the tarmac at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, September 12, 2012. NASA invited selected media on board to tour the 747-100 on its final stop on the east coast. The Shuttle Endeavour will be placed on top N905NA on Friday, September 15 and was to depart KSC at first light on Monday, September 17, 2012.

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Weight is a critical issue in transporting the shuttle, as is weather and altitude. Inside the 747-100 is empty. In the distance on the top of the cabin are several reinforcing struts to carry the weight of the shuttle which was attached to the top of the 747-100. Outside the skin of the 747-100 was also enhanced and connectors installed. The tail of the 747 also has extra vertical stabilizers. In all, however, the pilots say the 747 does not handle much different than a regular 747, except that extra care must be taken in banking and turning.

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Two pilots and a flight engineer fly the 747. Additionally, sometimes a representative of the FAA is on board, but has no authority because the NASA 747s are experimental aircraft and the FAA has no authority over NASA. Because flights are often short (600 to 1,100 miles with the shuttle attached) there are no bunks to sleep in and only about 25 seats on the upper and main decks forward. They are all very comfortable first class seats, and the bathroom is huge. The 747s have a circular staircase between decks. Commercial airlines in the 1960s sometimes built a piano bar (with piano) on the upper deck for its first class passengers. How times have changed.

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This is a closeup of one of the connectors on top of the 747. Note that it comes with instructions reminding those placing the shuttle on top of the 747 to put the “black side” where the insulating tiles are located down.

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Pete Crow, Seine/Harbour® Productions, sits in the commander’s seat of NASA’s Shuttle Carrier 747-100, during its final stop in Florida where it picked up, and carried, the Shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles and the California Science Center.

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Carol Anne Swagler, The Grove Sun, Grove, Oklahoma, stands in front of NASA’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at Kennedy Space Center on September 12, 2012. Ms. Swagler is a veteran NASA reporter and has covered numerous launches of the shuttle, the Mars Science Laboratory, GRAIL, Space X and others. In the two weeks prior to this week-long NASA event she photographed the Republican and Democratic Conventions in Tampa and Charlotte. This was the final visit of NASA’s N905NA to the east coast and to KSC. After delivering the Endeavour to Los Angeles International Airport on September 20, 2012, the airplane was scheduled to be flown back to Edwards Air Force Base, parked, and junked.

Readers are reminded that this blog content and its photographs are jointly copyright 2012 by Seine/Harbour® Productions LLC, Studio City, California, and by the Peter Michael Crow Trust.

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NASA’s 747-100 SCA lands after trans-continental flight from Edwards AFB, California to Kennedy Space Center Florida, on September 11, 2012.

On Monday, September 17, 2012, Endeavour, atop this 747-100, will begin its final journal across the United States to Los Angeles and to the California Science Center.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour will arrive at the CSC on Saturday October 13, 2012 after an overnight and full day’s journey through the streets of Los Angeles from Los Angeles International Airport.

NASA’s 747-100, known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), took off from Edwards Air Force Base at 8:26 am PDT and landed on the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility 5 hours 39 minutes after its non-stop transcontinental flight.

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Few media showed up for the landing. Only nine media attended. NASA sent five staff members to keep an eye on them. The landing begins a series of seven days of activities at the Kennedy Space Center, culminating in the departure of the Endeavour at dawn on September 17, 2012.

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Later in the week media will be taken on board the 747-100, interview the crew, see updates to Kennedy launching pads, visit the old firing rooms and view the mating of the Endeavour to the top of the NASA 747-100.

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The flight path of NASA flight 905 from KEDW to KTTS on September 11, 2012.

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Stats on NASA Flight 905 from Flight Aware — http://www.flightaware.com

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