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  Retired shuttles' water tanks being used for ISS (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Retired shuttles' water tanks being used for ISS
Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-17-2015 04:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Taking Endeavour's tanks: Retired shuttle donating water tanks for space station

NASA's space shuttle Endeavour, retired and on exhibit in Los Angeles for the past three years, has been called back into service — or rather, parts of it have — for the benefit of the International Space Station.

A NASA team working this week at the California Science Center will remove four tanks from deep inside the winged orbiter to comprise a water storage system for the space station. The reactivated artifacts are intended to help free more crew time for science operations onboard the orbiting outpost by reducing the astronauts' involvement in refilling their water reserves.

"The ISS [International Space Station] program has been steadily increasing the amount of crew time dedicated to science and technology development [onboard the station] through initiatives like the water storage system," NASA told Endeavour's curators at the California Science Center, according to information shared with collectSPACE.

onesmallstep
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posted 08-18-2015 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good that these parts will be recycled for a noble purpose, but after the ISS ceases operations, will these parts be left in place, or returned to Endeavour?

Or for that matter, any part(s) taken from any retired orbiter on display? Maybe there is a clause in any agreement when they were turned over to their respective display venues.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-18-2015 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The tanks will not be returned. They will be destroyed with the space station when it reenters the Earth's atmosphere.

COR482932
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posted 08-18-2015 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for COR482932   Click Here to Email COR482932     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the photo it looks like these tanks are pretty big. Will they be able to fit inside the exposed facility of Dragon?

In other words, how will these things get to the station?

p51
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posted 08-18-2015 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This does beg the question; were the orbiters really donated to the museums or not? Most museums, I'd think, wouldn't be happy with the idea of NASA coming back every now and then, asking, "Hey, can we have another piece out of it?" after it supposedly was donated in whole to said museum.

And whatever happened to the whole deal of the orbiters being 'sealed permanently' after they got to the museums? I remember reading that specifically. Sure, NASA could open them up if they had to, but to me, that means they weren't really 'sealed' at all except some bolts in place so you simply couldn't crank the main hatch open anytime you wanted.

So, it's really, "sealed to the owner but not to NASA" after all?

mercsim
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posted 08-18-2015 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert probably knows more but aren't all the spacecraft (except Liberty Bell 7) property of the Smithsonian and on loan to the museums?

So wouldn't NASA have asked Smithsonian, officially?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-18-2015 05:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Smithsonian only owns Discovery. NASA owns Atlantis, the California Science Center owns Endeavour and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum now owns Enterprise.
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
Most museums, I'd think, wouldn't be happy...
As noted in the article, the California Science Center weighed the options between preserving Endeavour as delivered or supporting an ongoing program (the space station). They ultimately were okay with the tanks being removed because (a) their removal does not change the physical appearance of the orbiter, and (b) the Smithsonian retains the orbiter of record, Discovery.
quote:
And whatever happened to the whole deal of the orbiters being 'sealed permanently' after they got to the museums?
I don't know where you read that, but it was never the case. The orbiters all had to be reopened once delivered to their museums to configure their flight decks and middecks (e.g. the chairs had to be stowed for the ferry flights). Endeavour was reopened earlier to support loading items into its payload bay (and its final display plan includes the crew hatch being open, though protected with a clear cover, so that the public may look inside).
quote:
Originally posted by COR482932:
Will they be able to fit inside the exposed facility of Dragon?
As mentioned in the article, the tanks are 3 feet long and 1.3 feet wide (0.9 by 0.4 m), so if desired, they can fit inside either Cygnus or Dragon.
quote:
In other words, how will these things get to the station?
To quote the article: "How and when the new water storage system will be flown to the space station was not specified."

APG85
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posted 08-18-2015 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think this is an unfortunate decision. I'd like to see the shuttles stay complete as possible. Would they remove the pilots seat from the Spirit of St. Louis and use it for another purpose?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-18-2015 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's only one Spirit of St. Louis, there are three space-flown orbiters and one is being preserved as the vehicle of record.

I'd also suggest there is a significant difference between a pilot's seat and water storage tanks that are installed under the floor.

mercsim
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posted 08-18-2015 08:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if there is some contract somewhere that outlines things such as this? We, the general public, may not know all the details.

You could also ask yourself what keeps the California Science Center or Intrepid from taking parts out and selling them as flown artifacts as the Cosmosphere did. Granted it was only small parts deemed not practical to re-install, but the orbiters contain thousands of small parts that no-one would ever know were missing that could generate millions of dollars of profit.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-18-2015 10:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The California Science Center, Smithsonian and Intrepid agreed, as part of their selection to receive the orbiters, to execute their approved display plans for the first 20 years of ownership. As such, they cannot arbitrarily take apart the shuttles without NASA's agreement.

The tank removal was obviously in NASA's interest, though it also involved a legal process to execute.

APG85
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posted 08-19-2015 04:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, water storage tanks probably do not compare to the pilot's seat on the Spirit of St. Louis. The point I'm trying to make is that it might be a regrettable (and irreversible) decision to remove items from a historically significant museum piece. Where do you draw the line on what is removed? First go the water tanks... what will be removed next?

The center wing fuel tank was removed from the SOSL under the direction of Lindbergh himself before the South America trip and purists deeply regret that this item was not saved and preserved (thankfully the the original wheels and tires were saved and are now in storage). Museums are to preserve and display. They shouldn't be "parting out" their most cherished artifacts.

Fifty or 100 years from now, this decision might be regretted and seen as a mistake. Look at the extraordinary efforts that are now being made to restore aircraft to their fully equipped originality. The Smithsonian is still trying to find items to complete the avionics on the B-29 Enola Gay.

Ronpur
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posted 08-19-2015 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was under the impression that most of the fuel pipes, RCS systems and computers were already removed from Atlantis and Endeavour. The fuel pipes were intended to be used, as were all of the engines. OMS engines are going to the Orion service module.

Water tanks are just more of what has already transpired.

I know I wish they could have been kept intact, and hauled out at some future date and flown, but that will never happen.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 08-19-2015 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a different point of view: Given the money that was spent to build, fly, and maintain the orbiters, I'm OK with pieces that can't be seen - after all, Enterprise doesn't have a complete cockpit (there are instruments nearby that _may_ have come from that orbiter.) Given the money spent, I'd rather see the spacecraft being used in some way than sit as expensive museum pieces.

onesmallstep
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posted 08-20-2015 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
'Expensive museum piece' is a relative term. Yes, it took thousands (or millions) of dollars to manufacture a piece of hardware or a whole shuttle orbiter or aircraft (in many cases hand-made), and it takes a hefty part of a museum's budget to conserve and maintain the artifact(s), but the end result is really priceless. Preserving a piece of aerospace history for future generations is all good in the end.

As for keeping an orbiter 'intact;' one of the first things a curator has to decide is, do you conserve it as it appeared at the end of its last mission, or restore it to another configuration? With so many parts updated or removed, and with artifacts flown on other orbiters perhaps being substituted, it can cause a little head scratching.

If the spacecraft is maintained as intact and historically true as possible, then a removal of a needed part is okay - as long as a plaque or sign points out the generous 'donation' of some of the innards.

Ronpur
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posted 08-20-2015 04:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I missed the part in the article the first time I read it, that Atlantis already had her tanks donated. Are there any photos of the actual removal?

OV-105
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posted 08-21-2015 04:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It must have been a pain going into Atlantis and getting the tanks out with the tilt they have it displayed.

Ronpur
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posted 08-21-2015 08:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is why I was hoping it was photographed, to see how it was done, lol.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-26-2015 06:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Photos: NASA re-enters retired shuttles to remove water tanks for space station

New behind-the-scenes photos reveal how the water storage tanks that were installed deep inside NASA's retired space shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour were recently removed by the space agency for future use onboard the International Space Station.

The photographs, which were shared with collectSPACE by NASA workers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and by the manager for Endeavour's display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, show how the three-foot-long (0.9 meter) tanks were accessed under the floor of the orbiters' crew cabins and were then extracted through different hatches on each vehicle.

pupnik
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posted 08-26-2015 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for pupnik     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A thought occurs as well, who actually removed the tanks? The USA workers familiar with them are all long since gone now.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-26-2015 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They were Jacobs engineers and technicians working under NASA's Test and Operations Support Contract at Kennedy Space Center. All were veterans of the shuttle program who used to work on the orbiters and the tanks.

Ronpur
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posted 08-26-2015 09:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent photos, though I wish we could have seen the platform in the cargo bay of Atlantis. I assume that it was done while the building was closed?

MrSpace86
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posted 08-27-2015 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's appalling that we are not able to just make these tanks from scratch. I don't really care that they extract items from a vehicle that will never ever fly again. I just think it's crazy that it can cost that much money to make new tanks. How much more will be extracted to save a few hundred bucks?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-27-2015 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is not just the manufacturing costs; it is the certification costs.

New tanks would need to go through a battery of tests to be approved for spaceflight. The shuttle-legacy tanks only need to be inspected for cleanliness and leaks.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-27-2015 06:02 PM     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 Ronpur:
I wish we could have seen the platform in the cargo bay of Atlantis.
It's not a shot of the platform, but here's a photo from the platform looking down into Atlantis' cargo bay taken by one of the workers.

Aeropix
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posted 08-29-2015 01:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aeropix   Click Here to Email Aeropix     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MrSpace86:
It's appalling that we are not able to just make these tanks from scratch.
I agree with this sentiment totally. While Robert has a good point about certification, it is that kind of "no-can-do" spirit which seems to permeate the aerospace industry today.

It is indeed a sad state of affairs that we can no longer launch our own astronauts, but that we have to scavenge museum pieces to support the rag-tag remnants of our once-proud space program.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-29-2015 05:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In 1973, NASA entered the retired Endeavour and removed control panels to fly again aboard an international space mission.

The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project's command module launched using the Apollo 16 command module's panels.

There are plenty of examples throughout NASA's history of the program reusing parts from its spent and retired spacecraft for ongoing programs. Gene Cernan trained for Apollo 17 wearing the spacesuit Dave Scott wore on the moon. Skylab reused a Gemini hatch. Spacelab's lighting came from old Skylab parts. Endeavour, the space shuttle, landed on Enterprise's landing gear.

This is not a new turn of affairs: this is how NASA has smartly stretched its space-proven hardware for decades.

Jim Behling
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posted 08-29-2015 06:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Magellan was made of leftover spares from Voyager , Galileo, Ulysses, and Mariner 9 programs. The ISS use of orbiter water tanks is no different. It does not reflect poorly on the status of the US space program. Not at all, in fact, it shows the opposite. It shows the ingenuity in the program. A solution to an unplanned need was found that was cost effective and readily available.

I take issue with the "no can do" and rag tag comments They are insults to those who work on the programs.

Yes, it is a problem that the US at this time can not launch its own astronauts. But there are projects in work to fix it.

oly
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posted 08-29-2015 07:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I also agree that utilizing parts where required is a more practical and efficient use of existing resources.

With planned launches in the short term future limited NASA has solved an immediate requirement for parts at the lowest possible cost. The manufacturing and testing abilities exist but these costs would be much higher.

Has NASA made known how and when these tanks will be launched and what will be the design or layout of the installation?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-29-2015 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The specific design of the water storage system is still in development. As for launching the tanks, from our most recent article:
NASA expects to launch the tanks within three to five years for likely installation in the U.S. "Destiny" laboratory, said Rowe.

"The current goal is to maximize the ability to fly key storage system components on multiple vehicles, including U.S commercial cargo vehicles," he said.

Ronpur
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posted 08-29-2015 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just realized what this reminds me of: Organ donors. Atlantis and Endeavour have "passed away" and their parts are being donated and their spirit lives on in other programs.

It is basically the reason I have an organ donor card, I like the idea that part of me could live on and help someone else live.

MrSpace86
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posted 09-03-2015 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
I take issue with the "no can do" and rag tag comments. They are insults to those who work on the programs.
No, they are not insults. I have worked on some pretty cool stuff when I was working on my engineering degree and I would not like seeing my work being torn apart to benefit other programs. If the tanks won't fly for another 3 to 5 years, then where is the issue of certification? Did they not foresee the need to make spare tanks?

You don't see that happening with other items in museums very often. The point of a museum is to preserve the artifact that is in their possession. Taking out parts of these vehicles to be reused and eventually destroyed is not my idea of preserving a vehicle. Are we going to start removing tiles from the orbiter to place them on the X-37?

And please, do not compare a machine to a human. Organ donors are not the same as the artifacts hanging in the National Air and Space Museum.

p51
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posted 09-03-2015 04:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
This is not a new turn of affairs: this is how NASA has smartly stretched its space-proven hardware for decades.
The difference is that all the items you named were owned by NASA and on their property at the time. My understanding is that the museums who house the orbiters now own them. I have seen copies of the title and transfer of ownership paperwork.

Knowing museums as I do, I can only imagine a museum head making this comment, "Wow, now they want more parts off our orbiter. Hmm. If we say no, I assume we'll never get anything 'cool' from them ever again, so I guess we'll need to give those parts to them..."

Otherwise, I can't imagine many museums agreeing to continue to part out their artifacts...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-03-2015 06:45 PM     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 p51:
The difference is that all the items you named were owned by NASA and on their property at the time.
Not all: the Skylab parts retrieved for Spacelab were from the Smithsonian. There are other examples, too.

NASA still owns Atlantis, so it didn't need to ask for any permission to remove OV-104's tanks. And as mentioned, the California Science Center only agreed to provide Endeavour's tanks after acknowledging that Discovery would continue to serve as the vehicle of record.

Jim Behling
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posted 09-03-2015 07:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MrSpace86:
If the tanks won't fly for another 3-5 years, then where is the issue of certification? Did they not forsee the need to make spare tanks?
It is not time but money, and ISS is learning as it goes.
quote:
You don't see that happening with other items in museums very often.
It is common occurrence with NASA items.
quote:
The point of a museum is to preserve the artifact that is in their possession.
Not true. There are many reasons for items being being in museums.
quote:
Taking out parts of these vehicles to be reused and eventually destroyed is not my idea of preserving a vehicle.
One orbiter is being preserved. Don't need multiple ones.
quote:
Are we going to start removing tiles from the orbiter to place them on the X-37?
Why not. If it saves money, that is good.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-03-2015 07:52 PM     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 Jim Behling:
Wrong, it is common occurrence with NASA items.
It actually isn't common. It isn't unprecedented, but it isn't common, either.
quote:
Why not. If it saves money, that is good.
It doesn't work that way. One of the key reasons the California Science Center agreed to turn over the tanks was because their removal did not affect the function or appearance of Endeavour.

There's a difference between retrieving an item that will be forever out of sight and soon inaccessible, and removing components that comprise the nature of the artifact itself.

MrSpace86
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posted 09-10-2015 08:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
Not true. There are many reasons for items being in museums.
Ummm... and what could those reasons be? I am really curious about this one.
quote:
One orbiter is being preserved. Don't need multiple ones.
There two B-29 Superfortresses that flew the atomic missions over Japan during WWII. Maybe we should just recycle Enola Gay and preserve Bockscar.

Jim Behling
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posted 09-10-2015 08:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
It actually isn't common
Actually, it is. I should have said aerospace items vs NASA's. Satellites have been removed from the NASM and flown. Aircraft parts have been taken and used.

Jim Behling
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posted 09-10-2015 08:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MrSpace86:
Ummm... and what could those reasons be?
One of the other reasons items are in museums for other than preservation is to teach.

Preservation only applies to unneeded hardware and then and only then it becomes artifacts. I would rather have only a facilities verification Saturn V for public display vs having it and two flight versions on display. The flight versions should have be used.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-05-2019 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Three and a half years later, from the ISS On-Orbit Status Report for Feb. 4, 2019:
Water Storage System (WSS) Installation: The crew began the WSS installation in the Lab. Today, the crew assembled the WSS Potable Tank Assembly and installed it into the modified Zero-G Stowage Rack (ZSR) located at LAB1D4. WSS will improve existing resupply/waste water management and iodinated water storage capabilities on ISS.

The WSS water storage tanks arrived onboard NG-10. The remaining hardware needed for the rack will be manifested on a subsequent visiting vehicle.


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