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Author Topic:   Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy (VA): shuttle Discovery
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-20-2012 12:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
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Final wheels stop: Space shuttle Discovery enters the Smithsonian

Space shuttle Discovery has rolled to its final wheels stop.

On Thursday evening (April 19), after an astronaut-studded ceremony that saw its formal transfer from NASA to the Smithsonian, Discovery was towed into its new and permanent home, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

"Today, Discovery takes on a new mission — less dynamic perhaps — but just as important," said former Senator John Glenn, who in 1998 flew onboard Discovery more than three decades after becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. "It will be on display not only as a testament to our time but also an inspiration to future generations. It will be a symbol for our nation that spaceflight presents optimism and hope and challenge and leadership, and aspiration to explore and to excel. And that's a big mission in its own right."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-22-2012 04:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery is now on display in the Udvar-Hazy Center's McDonnell Space Hangar, but there still remains some work before NASA's Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement team can leave OV-103.

The tailcone is being removed (it is needed to ferry Endeavour); OMS pod engine bells will be installed (they are currently sitting in the museum's restoration hangar); the replica SSMEs will be repositioned; the crew cabin is being configured as desired by the Smithsonian (e.g. some of the middeck seats are being placed in the stowed for orbit position to de-clutter the deck) and the umbilical and vent doors are being closed.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-22-2012 04:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

SpaceAngel
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posted 04-24-2012 04:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAngel   Click Here to Email SpaceAngel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Questions:
  1. What were technicians doing inside of Discovery?

  2. Has the tail cone been removed?

  3. Lastly, what will become of Discovery's flag?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-24-2012 05:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Answers:
  1. The Smithsonian requested that some of the crew seats on the middeck be stowed as they were on orbit, in part to represent that particular configuration but also to make it easier to maneuver should researchers want to gain access to the crew cabin later.

    The seats could not fly stowed during the ferry flight and so the work needed to wait until Discovery was in the museum.

  2. The tailcone has been removed. You can see an aft view of Discovery on the Udvar-Hazy Center's webcam. (The replica engines, at least of this posting are still configured for the ferry flight but will be flared out to better represent their position at landing.)

  3. Discovery's flag is remaining with the Smithsonian and plans are to display it alongside the orbiter.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-25-2012 08:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA public affairs update
At the Smithsonian Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center adjacent to Dulles, NASA and United Space Alliance (USA) engineers continue to prepare space shuttle Discovery for final display.

Tuesday the protective tailcone was removed from the aft end of the orbiter exposing the replica space shuttle main engines. Additionally, support struts are being installed today in the aft compartment.

Remaining work includes installation of the engine nozzles for the orbital maneuvering system pods on the back end of the shuttle and preparing the vehicle for final display positioning.

The tailcone from Discovery will be returned to Kennedy Space Center in Florida and used for shuttle Endeavour's ferry to California this fall.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-26-2012 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following work was completed on Wednesday towards displaying Discovery (via NASA public affairs):
  • Body flap has been positioned at null
  • Body flap carrier panel installations and closeouts are in work
  • All vent doors have been closed
  • SSME ferry struts to position engines are in work
  • Collapsed landing gear struts for jack down tomorrow
  • Tailcone fitting removals and break down preps are in work

APG85
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posted 04-26-2012 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just curious... why was the vehicle put up on full jacks? Are they going to lower it onto some kind of floor stands like they do for other aircraft (so the tires aren't actually touching the floor long term) or did this have something to do with the struts? Thanks!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-26-2012 08:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The vehicle had to be leveled to remove the tailcone, but Discovery will be displayed on posts so that it is not sitting on its gear (which are the same tires and gear on which it landed from its last spaceflight in March 2011).

APG85
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posted 04-27-2012 11:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just checked the webcam. It appears that the work on Discovery is complete and she has been "put to bed"...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-28-2012 12:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery now fully on display with its Canadarm remote manipulator system:

FullThrottle
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posted 04-28-2012 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FullThrottle   Click Here to Email FullThrottle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is the nosecone the original one first installed on Discovery? Did it fly all 39 missions or were the nosecones switched around? Is the cone even removable? Is this reinforced carbon-carbon material identical to the leading edge of the wings?

Seeing the contrast of wear and tear between heavily flown, hardly flown and newer tiles is really cool! I ask about the nose cone because its coloring looks to have survived incredibly well for 39 trips into space and back, compared to the heat and plasma soaked HRSI tiles along the bottom of the shuttle.

Any tiles make it the whole life of Discovery on all flights or were they 100% replaced along the way? If so, how many original 39 flight tiles survived?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-28-2012 07:07 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 FullThrottle:
Any tiles make it the whole life of Discovery on all flights or were they 100% replaced along the way?
According to NASA, approximately 80% of the tiles on each of the vehicles are original to their maiden flight.

I believe the nose cap is original to each vehicle, too and they are made from RCC, just as the wings' leading edge.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 04-29-2012 06:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would be neat if they had a placard stating that, along with, "But Discovery also carries/carried components which flew on other Orbiters," along with a listing of what those components are.

SpaceAngel
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posted 04-29-2012 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAngel   Click Here to Email SpaceAngel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why weren't the OMS engines attached after the pods returned from New Mexico and instead attached in Chantilly?

GoesTo11
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posted 04-29-2012 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
According to NASA, approximately 80% of the tiles on each of the vehicles are original to their maiden flight.
That's actually pretty amazing... I wouldn't have guessed it would be anywhere near that many, especially given the problems with the TPS early in the program.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-29-2012 06:32 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 SpaceAngel:
Why weren't the OMS engines attached after the pods returned from New Mexico and instead attached in Chantilly?
I don't know for certain, but all that remains of the orbital maneuvering system are the pods' shells and nozzles. The nozzles may not have been secure enough to be approved for flight.

psloss
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posted 04-29-2012 07:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for psloss   Click Here to Email psloss     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAngel:
Why weren't the OMS engines attached after the pods returned from New Mexico and instead attached in Chantilly?
As Robert noted, the nozzles are the only part of the engine left.

Something that the nozzle can attach to might work for static display, but not so much for one or more ferry flights/hops.

The below links are to NASA pictures (taken during repairs affected during the STS-111 launch campaign) that show the part of the engine that the nozzle was attached to in a flight configuration; it's likely all of that is gone: 1 | 2 | 3

SpaceAngel
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posted 05-09-2012 03:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAngel   Click Here to Email SpaceAngel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What will become of the robotic arm, that's right beside "Discovery"?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-09-2012 03:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It now belongs to the Smithsonian, and is on permanent display besides Discovery (whether it continues to be exhibited in its support rig or some other display fixture is still to be seen).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-16-2012 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Washington Post reports that STS-51G payload specialist Sultan Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud stopped by to see his ride to space.
Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia — the first Arab astronaut to go into space — dropped by the Udvar-Hazy Center Tuesday to see Discovery, the shuttle he flew on in 1985 as a payload specialist. "I arrived a little late to D.C. last night," he joked, "because I was on a plane that only goes 500 miles an hour, as opposed to the shuttle I flew that went 1,800 miles an hour." (Astronaut humor!) The Saudi royal was in town for the Smithsonian's Sackler exhibition "Roads of Arabia" coming this fall as part of the museum's 25th anniversary.

glcanon
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posted 06-03-2012 10:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for glcanon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I believe the nose cap is original to each vehicle, too and they are made from RCC, just as the wings' leading edge.
Actually, you may recall that Discovery received a new nosecone prior to its Return to Flight mission.

Also, some of the RCC panels on the right wing leading edge were used for the tests to demonstrate what happened to Columbia, so those RCC panels were replaced brand new on the Return to Flight mission as well.

alanh_7
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posted 06-17-2012 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just got back from a whirlwind holiday that took family and I to Washington DC, Baltimore, New York and a cruise to Bermuda. Having missed Spacefest because we were moving our office this was my alternative.

Had a great time and had a chance to get to see Discovery at her new home at the Udvar-Hazy Center. This was my first visit there and anyone heading to DC it is well worth the trip out that way just to see Discovery but also see the amazing display of aircraft at this state of the art museum.

I spent a great deal of time photographing Discovery from nose to tail, wingtip to wingtip and there were few people around.

It's a great chance to see this wonderful workhorse up close and personal. Great display.

bwhite1976
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posted 09-24-2013 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I visited the Udvar-Hazy this past June and was impressed with the facility. It has already been said here, but it is an impressive/new building. The long walkways at various heights are a great way to see the aircraft. I personally love the way Discovery is presented with landing gear extended as if it just concluded another successful mission.

jpujol
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posted 07-07-2014 09:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpujol     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a question about the Discovery's tiles: Were the tiles on the Discovery screwed-in for the display?

It seems that most of the tiles on the display have screws that hold them to the Discovery.

Is this just an illusion or were the tiles screwed-in to prevent them from falling off while on display?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-07-2014 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The tiles were not screwed into Discovery for display. They remain attached just as they were for the orbiter's final flight, STS-133, in 2011.

You might be mistaking the small white circles on many of the tiles for screws. These marks are not fasteners but rather an indication of where the waterproofing dimethylethoxysilane was injected into the tile by syringe prior to flight.

jpujol
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posted 07-07-2014 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpujol     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you very much for the reply about the tiles. Nice to know there are no screws in the tiles for display.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-26-2014 12:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
National Air and Space Museum release
Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)
Space Shuttle Discovery in commemoration of its 30th anniversary
Wednesday, August 27, Noon - 2:30 p.m. (EDT)

Space history curator Valerie Neal will be answering questions about Space Shuttle Discovery on Reddit.

As the longest-serving orbiter, Discovery flew more missions, carried more astronauts, and visited the International Space Station more times than any other space shuttle.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Discovery's first mission on August 30th, Neal will answer your questions about this champion of the space shuttle fleet.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-29-2014 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Tire marks and teardrop tiles: Smithsonian curator on shuttle Discovery at 30 years

NASA's retired space shuttle Discovery will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its first launch being admired by fans of all ages, according to the Smithsonian curator charged with its care.

"If Discovery could talk, it would surely express happiness at seeing so many people coming to visit and saying how awesome it looks," said Valerie Neal, Discovery's curator at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and the author of the recently released book, "Discovery: Champion of the Space Shuttle Fleet."

phase pistol
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posted 09-14-2016 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for phase pistol     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I put up an album of my space shuttle Discovery photos on Flickr.


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