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  United Space Alliance shuttle tile acrylic display

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Author Topic:   United Space Alliance shuttle tile acrylic display
Rocket Chris
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Posts: 252
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Registered: Nov 2009

posted 11-15-2012 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rocket Chris   Click Here to Email Rocket Chris     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently owned a space shuttle tile acrylic presentation with the inscription:
Thermal Protection Tile Flown Aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis - United Space Alliance
I'm curious about if its possible to get to know how many of these presentations are out there. Is it possible to identify the tile (or tiles) used for these presentations?

Rocket Chris
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Posts: 252
From:
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 06-24-2015 01:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rocket Chris   Click Here to Email Rocket Chris     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So a long time has passed but I do still not know anything about the display showed below. Does anyone here has a clue from when this tile was taken (flight)? And how many of these displays where produced?

mercsim
Member

Posts: 174
From: Phoenix, AZ
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-24-2015 09:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I went to college there (Orlando) and had several friends that worked there, some on tiles. They used to tell stories about throwing them away. There were literally hundreds of them surplus. At the end of the program they were also offered to employees by the hundreds.

I have very few space collectibles and prefer it that way so I turned them down on several occasions. Yours is presented very nice which may add or take away the value, depending on the collector.

I hope someone that worked there or collectors more familiar with them can chime in to help you.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32773
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-24-2015 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mercsim:
At the end of the program they were also offered to employees by the hundreds.
I tend to doubt this as the tiles were not United Space Alliance property. (In fact, a USA employee was arrested in 2011 for having stolen and offered for sale a dozen or so shuttle tiles.) Unflown tiles were (and still are being) offered by NASA, but only to teachers and museums, as accordant with federal law.

Tiles were discarded out of health concerns and to prevent their export (they cannot legally be exported outside the United States without a State Department waiver).

Chris, I've seen a couple of those USA tile acrylics before. For some reason I want to say the tile(s) were from STS-36, but I do not recall why I associate that mission with this display.

mercsim
Member

Posts: 174
From: Phoenix, AZ
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-24-2015 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wasn't clear but I didn't say USA employees. I know NASA employees and other contractors that have individual, non-documented tiles. They were also given to schools. I volunteered for a local High School that had some. Search my website for more details on that.

The Asbestos based bricks that came out of the flame trench were dangerous too. Yet I personally have some and have posted photos here.

I don't think the USA employee arrested was ever charged as the tiles were being collected by other employees. He tried to sell them and raised flags.

Its important to recognize documented and undocumented artifacts.

I did exactly what I hoped to do for Chris, get people talking about it. Now if we could get someone that actually knows about the USA award tile in question.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32773
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-24-2015 10:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To clarify, the former USA employee was charged with grand theft, a third-degree felony, and with dealing in stolen property, a second-degree felony. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and ordered to pay $5,353 in restitution and $742 in fines and fees, as well as perform 50 hours of community service.

There is no such thing as an undocumented artifact. All federal property has to proceed through proper disposal channels before it can be legally owned.

Prior to the mid-1990s, there were tiles released through government surplus sales. That was prior to NASA adopting a heightened health and export concern over their disposition. Spent flown tiles were subsequently crushed and buried.

Historically, NASA has presented a limited number of intact flown tiles to some of its employees, e.g. Gene Kranz and John Young, upon their retirement. But the agency never allowed employees to just take tiles home as federal law doesn't allow for such.

That, of course, doesn't mean it didn't happen but it also doesn't mean it was done legally.

The only mass distribution of flown tiles to employees that I am aware of are the lucite-embedded STS-1 fragments that were given to team members at Kennedy Space Center and Johnson Space Center. This USA tile display is similar in that purpose.

p51
Member

Posts: 1265
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 06-24-2015 03:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mercsim:
There were literally hundreds of them surplus. At the end of the program they were also offered to employees by the hundreds.
I know what you're talking about. I knew several folks who worked in some capacity on the STS program and lived between Orlando and the Cocoa Beach area, and more than a few told me about how many tiles were floating around. In fact, one had a flown tile as a coaster on his coffee table.

One of my deep regrets in life was turning down a flown tile he had in a drawer with a short stack of others ("Nobody wants the things," he said then). I simply didn't understand what a big deal it was to get one, as I had heard this before and assumed tiles were an easy thing to nab whenever you wanted one. Hey, I was about 17 at the time and dumb as a teen can be...

But yeah, I saw them with my own eyes. The man ain't making this up.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32773
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-24-2015 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't doubt that there are some out there (hundreds I doubt, though), but as noted above, that doesn't mean they were released through proper channels.

It's like the old employment questionnaire that asks if you've ever stolen from your workplace. If you answer "no," you're lying. Everyone at some point removes a pen, a paperclip or some other plentiful item from their desk thinking no harm done. And in most cases no harm was done, but it is still stealing.

In the case of shuttle tiles, that theft can lead to serious consequences, and there is no statute of limitations on the theft of government property.

Rocket Chris
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Posts: 252
From:
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 06-25-2015 03:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rocket Chris   Click Here to Email Rocket Chris     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks guys for your replies and for the discussion related to this topic. Would it be a good idea to get in contact with USA, requesting the history behind this lucite displays?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32773
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-25-2015 06:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately, all that remains of USA are those working to close out its books. The company was dissolved with the end of the space shuttle program.

I know the CEO though, and will send him an email to see if there are any records remaining as to these displays.

mercsim
Member

Posts: 174
From: Phoenix, AZ
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-25-2015 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"I tend to doubt this..."
"that I am aware of .."

Those are opinions...

"I knew several folks.."
"flown tile he had in a drawer with a short stack of others.."
"I own..."

These are first hand accounts. I know its hard to swallow but the world isn't as nice as laws want it to be or as it may appear from a keyboard.

When a boss or supervisor hands a young employee an item (we don't have to call it an artifact) and says "here, this flew in space and you can have it", they usually take it home and put it on a shelf. They also don't usually seek paperwork or worry about breaking federal laws or regulations. It is what it is. Politicians, Laywers, and Journalists may not like it but it happens way more than you think or want.

And to a point, I passed a law enforcement polygraph that asked about stealing items at work. We talked about stationery.

I also passed a polygraph for a government clearance and was asked about stealing from employers.

I also passed a polygraph to become a federal agent and was asked about stealing from employers including stationery.

I didn't think I was lying, and neither did any of those agencies.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32773
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-25-2015 10:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As I said, I don't doubt that some employees took tiles home; it was the quantity ("by the hundreds") that I doubt (for reasons that go beyond just opinion).

And I also don't doubt that some of their immediate supervisors "gave them" permission to do so. That doesn't mean however, that when the employee or their family later goes to sell the tile(s), that NASA OIG won't step in to stop the sale and/or prosecute the theft.

bthumble
Member

Posts: 180
From: Houston, Texas USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 06-25-2015 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bthumble   Click Here to Email bthumble     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it ok to own a display like this?

I have not seen any online for sale, but like it very much.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 32773
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-25-2015 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, official mementos like this were cleared for distribution (though it is not clear if a State Dept. waiver would be needed were one to be exported).

Rocket Chris
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Posts: 252
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Registered: Nov 2009

posted 06-26-2015 12:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rocket Chris   Click Here to Email Rocket Chris     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Rob for your help! I appreciate your efforts!

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