posted 08-21-2008 02:11 PM
I guess I should weigh in here. After all, my associates and I have been successful (so far) in surveying about 100 acres of site where Apollo was built.
Aerospace Legacy Foundation was started 13 years ago in the hope that a computer center for seniors could be established when Boeing left the government parcel in Downey, CA. NASA went as far as to include that an educational center had to be built and they deeded the full size orbiter training mockup be left for the center.
In 2003 about a dozen friends and volunteers of ALF were asked by the city of Downey to see if anything of worth was left for such a center when the facility was closed in 1999. This is where we ended up becoming "aerospace archeologists".
We were fortunate that we had a few retirees and former employees that knew the differences in Apollo and Shuttle.
We were given free reign of the plant roughly two months after the loss of Columbia, and we found some scenes that could have made a fortune for the National Enquirer.
In this foul smelling, dark, damp and dreary place we found many abandoned treasures. Mostly test articles and pieces that ranged from wiring to 1/4 of an orbiter's cargo bay. Amongst all this there was the shuttle orbiter mockup - more resembling Columbia than any other bathed in the shadows - it was a spooky scene that only the Ghosthunters could have appreciated. We used our own flashlights and tried to find hard hats, until Ken Winans of the W foundation supplied us with them after he came for a tour.
We excavated as much as we could that summer and still find things here now and then. I will save more of the story for later, but that summer we learned a lot and helped to save many pieces of history that will soon be seen at the Columbia Memorial Space Center when it opens this winter in Downey, California.