Sunday, March 04, 2007

Rollin' Back

I send you greetings from the fair lady Atlantis, on her way from Pad A to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Atlantis has a headache.
The external tank received damage from a hail storm. When the insulation of your gas tank is foam, this can kind of happen.

I saw the last part of the rollback. Made it by fifteen minutes. It takes about seven hours to get a shuttle from Pad A to the VAB, on a six million ton vehicle that has a top speed of one mile an hour, and I was almost late for it.

This was because I... couldn't find the VAB. It's the third-largest building in the world, and I lost it. Since my work with NASA is now at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Space and Missile Museum, it's been a while since I've driven around the VAB Industrial Complex, and I couldn't figure out how to get to it. So I kept whizzing back and forth on the NASA Causeway all, "There it is!... There it is!... There it is!..." and then turning around. Again.

But I made it just before Atlantis disappeared into her boudoir for the evening:

And so we have an English major from Ohio face to face with the disgruntled Atlantis.

We can see here from the Super DigiCam TeleLens That Results In Way Too Many Accidental Pictures of Nostril Hairs that Atlantis is kind of a beater:

And that's OK. Those are working tiles. Unlike The Rack, they are not for display purposes only.

Here is one set of the reaction control pods:


They are placed on either side of the noses of the orbiters, and they are used to make little corrections and left and right turns in space. I would like some of these on my Corolla.

This is one of the payload bay doors of the orbiter. The U.S. flag looks bass-ackwards because we are looking at it from Atlantis' starboard side, and due to aviation tradition, the blue field needs to be pointing to the nose of the spacecraft. This is why I'm not in charge of the stencilling.

The situation called for me to follow purely scientific, official NASA protocol and take a picture of myself.

And here we are, inside in time for tea. When the Saturn V rockets for Apollo were rolled out, they were twice this height. That's a lot of wicker.

The solid rocket boosters have the same foam that covers the external tank at the very bottom. I like to think of these strips as "booster cozies."

All of these images are Atlantis in her "before" pictures; her fat pants. The entire load (orbiter, SRB's, external tank, mobile launch platform, crawler transporter) is about twelve million pounds-- and that's with the external tank empty.

So you're going to rough up the dirt a little. These are the tread tracks left by the crawler transporter on its way back from the pad.

I parked the Pending Bridemobile right on the Crawlerway to take this picture. For some reason, this didn't seem to go down too well with Security.

At least they let me get a picture before the cuffs went on.

yay digital at: mb@blondechampagne.com

5 comments:

Brent Bowen said...

VERY Cool pictures!!!

Josh The Pilot said...

I love you, but I don't have any money to help you make bail. Sorry!

red pill junkie said...

Will you at least attend to her jury session and speak on her behalf? :-)

Atlantis is a nice lady, but waaay to delicate for my taste. I hope the nest gen of shuttles are sturdier.

Scott the Taller said...

Did I mention I'm envious? There's nothing cool like that in Montana. Glad someone can keep me updated on the happenings at the museum, at least

Dan the soldier/brother-in-law-to-be said...

"The U.S. flag looks bass-ackwards because we are looking at it from Atlantis' starboard side, and due to aviation tradition, the blue field needs to be pointing to the nose of the spacecraft."

The flags on US Army uniforms (and I believe other US Armed Forces as well) is the same backward-looking design. Since the flag goes on our right shoulder, it must appear as if we are "advancing into battle," with the stripes behind the blue field. I think they should just put the flag on our left shoulder and call it a day...then again I still don't get payed enough to think so I don't know why I bother.

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