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 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.
A real-time video of the push back. Everything is done very slowly and under precise control.
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.
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.