Friday, August 12, 2011
Space Shuttle Sling Shot
The orbiter Enterprise is lowered to the Dulles airport tarmac on November 17, 1985. Photo source: National Air and Space Museum.
SpaceDaily.com reports that NASA personnel recently practiced a long-lost art — how to remove an orbiter from atop a 747 where no mate-demate device is available.
The practice was held at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility.
Apparently the last time the system was used was in 1985, when the prototype orbiter Enterprise was delivered to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. The same technique will be used in 2012 when the orbiters are delivered to museums.
Atlantis will remain at KSC and be displayed at the Visitor Complex. Discovery will go to the National Air and Space Museum. Enterprise will leave NASM and go to the U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. Endeavour will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
Discovery is the first scheduled for delivery, in spring 2012.
UPDATE August 11, 2011 7:15 AM EDT — NASASpaceFlight.com offers this timeline of orbiter processing for museum deliveries, along with excellent history of prior incidents when two orbiters were viewed side-by-side.