This weekend several Resistor members worked together with The Last Shuttle Project and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to install a time lapse camera near Hangar 12 at JFK to record the demating operation of the Space Shuttle Enterprise (OV101) from the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Read on for commentary about the all night operation on the airport ramp.
The camera was a Sony DSLR with a timelapse-controller.com trigger and a large battery pack.
To ensure that it didn’t move during the next twenty four hours, we bolted it to the ground with the help of United Space Alliance workers and a large hammer drill..
Starting at 22:00 they rolled the SCA 747 from the hangar to the ramp.
Since it wasn’t under slung load yet, we were able to get close enough to read the gauges on the 747. You can see the quad engine readout for the flight engineer.
The teams from United Space Alliance and NASA attached the mobile Mate-Demate Device sling to the attachment points on the orbiter.
Extra wide panorama of OV101, the SCA and the MDD.
The sling has a Hydra-Set load moving attachment that was read by a team member with a spotting scope. It uses hydrostatic pressure to adjust the height of the sling in 0.025 mm, allowing the team to install or remove bolts without having to use the coarse adjustments of the cranes.
NASA operates under a waiver from OSHA to let the crew work on the Orbiter even when it is a slung load. These team members are removing the last bolts from the rear ball and socket joints (called “the salad bowl”) in preparation for the hoist.
Finally free from the SCA — the forward a-frame is no longer connected.
A real-time video of the push back. Everything is done very slowly and under precise control.
There was quite a bit of water in the aerodynamic tail cone from its exposed position over the past two weeks. It poured out once the shuttle was free from the SCA.
A custom flat bed low-boy trailer was brought in and the Enterprise lowered onto it. This took longer than expected since the orbiter rides on the SCA with a fairly high angle of attack, but the trailer was built to hold it level. This cause the aft bolts to not line up and required a few hours of on-site engineering to stack lumber under the front attachment point to restore the correct angle. So, yes, the Space Shuttle Enterprise is now up on blocks.
At sunrise the Enterprise was finally pushed back into Hangar 12 and we were able to pack up our gear to go home.
The SCA has one more flight to deliver Endeavour, and then it will be decommissioned.
It has flown quite a few ferry flights during its thirty year history.
The time lapse video of the entire demate and towing operation compresses the twenty hours into one minute. This was shown on NASA TV and provided TV stations, and the Smithsonian will be mixing it into an exhibit as part of the Last Shuttle Project.