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  Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center: shuttle Discovery (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center: 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
collectSPACE
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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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"...

p51
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posted 04-28-2012 01:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My brother took this shot just yesterday, the lucky bugger drives past Dulles every day on his way home from DC...

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.

GTspace
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posted 09-23-2013 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GTspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just returned from a trip to the East coast and had the opportunity once again to stop by Udvar-Hazy and see Discovery.

From the first time I visited her when she first arrive to this trip last Thursday, I must say that she needs a bath. I mean the dust that has settled on her is getting quite thick. One other disturbing thing I notice while walking around her was on the floor near the right rear landing gear was a gap filler.

There was a tour guide walking by and I mentioned it to him and he said that they have picked up "several" off the floor in the last months and not only that, but they are having a mouse problem too. I did notice one other gap filler dangling and ready to fall off.

So, what is the procedure to clean her?

Is it normal for parts to just fall off?

stsmithva
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posted 09-23-2013 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GTspace:
I mean the dust that has settled on her is getting quite thick. So, what is the procedure to clean her?
The gap fillers on the floor sure ain't good. But are you sure you saw recent dust, and not the discolorations caused by a space mission that were deliberately left on after her last mission?

I saw Discovery just after she arrived at Udvar-Hazy, and very little was gleaming white and smooth. Much of the exterior looked a little scraped and off-white/tan.

GTspace
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posted 09-23-2013 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GTspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stsmithva:
But are you sure you saw recent dust, and not the discolorations.
No question it's dust and a lot of it. I questioned myself on it at first and then when I was looking at the port side windows, I could clearly see a thick layer of dust and where something had scraped down the window in one area.

Poor Discovery, now instead of glamorous space missions, she just sits there with mouse bait in her wheel wells growing older losing parts.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-23-2013 05:46 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 GTspace:
Poor Discovery, now instead of glamorous space missions, she just sits there with mouse bait in her wheel wells growing older losing parts.
Okay, let's not get too dramatic. One could easily just as say, lucky Discovery, now instead of blowing or breaking up in flight...

That aside, I would take anything a docent says with a grain of salt. While I am very grateful for their volunteering — they do a yeoman's work — they are not curators.

As for the gap filler: if you'll recall, Discovery lost a few gap fillers in flight, too. They aren't permanently attached (by design) and this is the first time any orbiter has sat perfectly still for more than a year.

Gravity will have its effect, hence dust will happen, too. And periodically, the orbiter is or will be dusted...

alanh_7
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posted 09-23-2013 06:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It has been a year since I saw Discovery. I was there June 2012 so I cannot speak of her condition now, but she seemed none the worse for wear when I saw her. I can see where dust could be a factor in a large facility like the Udvar-Hazy center (though I did not notice any when I saw it) however the facility is about as clean as you can make a large facility designed for displaying aircraft.

The Udvar-Hazy is an excellent facility. My only complaint was that the only way to get good photos looking down at Discovery's upper surface was from a staircase off to her right. But it's not a big deal.

Discovery is not as dramatically displayed as Atlantis (I have not seen Atlantis yet but will in November) but the Udvar-Hazy is a massive step forward when compared to the old and very dusty storage area at the Paul E. Garber facility out in Silver Hill (now closed to the public).

GTspace
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posted 09-23-2013 11:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GTspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Okay, let's not get too dramatic. One could easily just as say, lucky Discovery, now instead of blowing or breaking up in flight
Now that's being dramatic and over the top. We're not anywhere close to talking about her being destroyed in any fashion and I'm somewhat taken back at the fact you are comparing a little dust and gap fillers falling off to complete destruction of a vehicle.

I merely stated my opinion after a discussion with the tour guide.

quote:
That aside, I would take anything a docent says with a grain of salt. While I am very grateful for their volunteering — they do a yeoman's work — they are not curators.

...Gravity will have its effect, hence dust will happen, too. And periodically, the orbiter is or will be dusted.


Well, when it's mentioned that in his 6 years working there he has seen the Enola Gay cleaned "dozens" of times and never the Enterprise until she was being prepared to move to NY. Shrugs his shoulders and says, Oh well... go figure... and then points out to me the gaping holes in the rear hanger doors near the floor that are big enough for a cat to get through.

Again, it's just my opinion but I find it disturbing that a machine used for mass killing of innocent lives gets better care and attention than one built for the enrichment of everyone's life here on earth. I'm in no way saying she's being abused but there seems to be a lack of attention to even minor details as many displays had lights out and the Spacehab module was completely dark inside, (the second time I had observed it this way)... but then again Columbia downtown was the same way. No lights whatsoever and many display cases void of any display at all.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 09-24-2013 12:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GTspace:
Again, it's just my opinion but I find it disturbing that a machine used for mass killing if innocent lives gets better care and attention than one built for the enrichment of everyone's life here on earth.

Without getting too much into the philosophical aspects of that statement - if not for Enola Gay my wife may not have existed as her grandfather was set to invade Japan — the fact is, for many years Enola Gay was hidden away in a disassembled state, between (approximately) 1960 and 2003 (although restoration started in 1984). I hardly call that "better care and attention."

Indeed, between 1945 and 1960 Enola Gay spent most of her time outside, unprotected to weather and souvenir hunters.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-24-2013 04:58 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 GTspace:
Well, when it's mentioned that in his 6 years working there he has seen the Enola Gay cleaned "dozens" of times and never the Enterprise until she was being prepared to move to NY.
Whether or not what the docent told you was accurate, different artifacts, made of different materials, require different levels of care and attention.

Before Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis were delivered to their respective homes, for example, NASA's own engineers and technicians recommended to the museums minimal cleaning because the action in and of itself could damage the vehicles more than any dust settling on them.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-24-2013 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After reading Greg's account, I checked with the museum and learned this:

Discovery is not dirty; its discolorations are part of its flight history, and the orbiter will not be washed or otherwise treated to remove them.

The museum has an artifact cleaning crew who carefully dust the aircraft and spacecraft on a rotating schedule to remove light dust and lint (mostly denim fiber) raised by the millions of visitors who walk through the display areas annually. It takes months to complete one round of dusting, so at any given time any given object may appear to be in need of attention. It's a matter of timing, not inattention.

As to gap fillers, none have been observed or reported to be loose, detached, lost, found, or otherwise out of place. Greg, if you can supply a photo, it may be possible to determine what you saw.

The Udvar-Hazy Center surroundings are woods and fields populated by mice, snakes, birds, insects, foxes, deer, and other animals, some of which occasionally stray where they shouldn't but there is no infestation problem in the building.

JSC01
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posted 09-24-2013 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JSC01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can completely understand that some deer or other animals might want to see Discovery. Here at JSC we have very curious deer that roam all over the center.

onesmallstep
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posted 09-24-2013 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hmm... Maybe some of those critters were checking out Discovery because some of their animal brethren launched on that orbiter for the STS-42/IML-1 mission? The Smithsonian does have an open admission policy, no?

MrSpace86
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posted 09-24-2013 02:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the Enola Gay description was a little dramatic as well. More than half of the artifacts in that museum were at some point used as weapons.

As for Discovery's condition, if you really want to see an artifact dusty and in a sad state, check out the SR-71 Blackbird inside the Kansas Cosmosphere. The front has been worn off due to all the people touching it and the top of the aircraft is the true definition of dusty.

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.

alanh_7
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posted 09-24-2013 08:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think the comments on Enola Gay are over dramatic at all. I saw the aircraft at the Paul Garber facility when I visited in 1992 and 93. The forward section was fully restored at this time but the tail, mid section and wings were in disarray and in bad shape after years sitting outside and also sitting in storage and at the Garber facility which was basically a series tin roofed warehouses with no air conditioning and in some cases no heat.

Whether you agree with what that aircraft represents on not it is a historic history making aircraft. The Smithsonian has done a fantastic job with it and most of its aircraft, working within the constraints of a tight budget in tough economic times.

I am confident Discovery will be well looked after in its new home.

GTspace
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posted 09-26-2013 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GTspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...if you can supply a photo, it may be possible to determine what you saw.
What few photos were taken that day are on a friend's camera, which is not the highest megapixel one would desire. Anyway, I asked him to send me the photos via email so when they do arrive I will see if the photo your looking for exist.
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Discovery is not dirty; its discolorations are part of its flight history, and the orbiter will not be washed or otherwise treated to remove them.
He did mention that in one particular photo, you can clearly see the heavy dust deposit on the cockpit windows. He said there is a clear difference from the wear and tear on the vehicle of ascent and reentry over the past 28 years and dust from just sitting in the museum.

dogcrew5369
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posted 03-17-2014 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thought I'd post a few photos I took March 14, 2014 of Discovery during my first visit to Udvar-Hazy.


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