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  NASA readies Enterprise to return to flight

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Author Topic:   NASA readies Enterprise to return to flight
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-15-2010 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE:
NASA readies retired test shuttle Enterprise for one last flight

Enterprise, NASA's first space shuttle prototype, which in 1985 was delivered to the Smithsonian as a museum piece after proving that a winged spacecraft could land safely as a glider, is now being readied by the space agency for what is planned to be its final ferry flight atop a modified Boeing 747 jetliner.

Enterprise's upcoming flight comes as a result of NASA's plan to retire the three space-worthy shuttles remaining in its fleet later this year. All three are expected to be placed on public display, with one, Discovery, heading for the Smithsonian's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the annex to the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Va., where Enterprise has been exhibited since 2003...

The above article also includes a photo gallery: Preparing Enterprise for flight

OV-105
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Posts: 589
From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 03-15-2010 05:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When Enterprise was at Dyden she was outside in the weather all the time. She looked funny out there with no OMS pods in summer of 1985 when a 15 year old kid got near her.

ilbasso
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Posts: 1494
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 03-15-2010 05:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When Enterprise was first brought to Dulles, she sat on a parking apron near the south end of runway 19R. I always hoped my flights out of IAD would be off that runway so I could catch a glimpse of her!

stsmithva
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Posts: 1319
From: Centreville, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 03-15-2010 06:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, would you be able to suggest to the appropriate people (or tell us who the appropriate people are so we could send a chorus of suggestions) that as Enterprise departs or Discovery arrives the 747 does a slow circle around the Beltway like it did once about 25 years ago? It would be great for a million people to get a chance to see that.

drjeffbang
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Posts: 103
From: Virginia
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 03-15-2010 09:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for drjeffbang   Click Here to Email drjeffbang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is very exciting news. Valerie Neal spoke to a large group of us this past Saturday at U-H. It's always amazing to see an orbiter up close and take in the size of it, but it will really be spectacular to see Discovery in such a place of reverence.

GoesTo11
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Posts: 1026
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 03-16-2010 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, this really brings it home, doesn't it? Still hard to believe that the end is nigh...

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-16-2010 02:48 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 stsmithva:
It would be great for a million people to get a chance to see that.
I think for that very reason alone it is almost certain they will do it without any outside prodding necessary, unless there is some 9-11 restriction that would prevent such a flyover.

In any case, we're no where near (yet) ferry flight schedules, so it's too early to suggest who to contact but once that becomes clear, I'll be happy to point you and others in the right direction.

Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 03-17-2010 02:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is nice seeing workers surrounding Enterprise again as she truly is unique among the shuttles. Indeed her experience on display shows why it will be VERY important for any museum that gets a space flown orbiter to have a proper climate controlled facility to put the ship in, rather then just a simple hangar. These ships can not (nor should they) be treated like simple airplanes.

One minor issue that I can think of when the time comes to ferry Enterprise is the tailcome will need to be modified a little. Reason being is the two tailcones currently used by NASA are set up to work with shuttles that have the dragchute housings at the base of the tail. Enterprise doesn't have that. Back in the early 90s when Endeavour was the only shuttle with a dragchute (and later Columbia), one tailcone was made for the chutes and the other for the original tail design (the one used by Enterprise during the ALT tests). When the entire fleet got the drag chutes, the second cone was modified to match the first one. Granted it is a minor thing, but something that will likely need to be looked at as well.

KenDavis
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Posts: 178
From: W.Sussex United Kingdom
Registered: May 2003

posted 03-22-2010 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KenDavis   Click Here to Email KenDavis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reading this thread has prompted me to ask if there was every a study done on using Enterpise after the ALT flights to familiarise orbital flight crews with handling of the orbiter. Granted crews use the modified Gulfstream which is cheaper and allows for multiple approaches, but would the STS-1, STS-3, STS-4 or even later crews have benefited from a flight in Enterprise?

mjanovec
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Posts: 3593
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 03-22-2010 06:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suspect the Enterprise was only used to prove the concept of landing an orbiter...and collect necessary data on actual flight characteristics (that can be used in flight simulators and the Gulfstream to make simulated landings all the more realistic)...and likely not considered to be a training tool.

The Gulfstream is overall a much cheaper and safer tool for training. Like you said, it has the ability to practice multiple approaches in the same hour. You'd be lucky to accomplish a couple of approaches per week in Enterprise.

Plus, the Gulfstream has a much greater margin for safety. A poorly executed approach in the Gulfstream can be saved by applying the throttle and gaining speed/altitude for a go around. A poorly executed approach in Enterprise could easily necessitate the crew "punching out" to save their lives.

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