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  Huntsville's Saturn V rocket damaged by bullets

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Author Topic:   Huntsville's Saturn V rocket damaged by bullets
FFrench
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Posts: 3093
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 05-03-2012 12:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It appears that someone shot the Saturn V this morning.
"Just before 10 this morning, someone fired three shots into the Davidson Center for Space Exploration," space center spokesman Tim Hall said in a statement. "According to Huntsville police, it appears the shots could have come from a location along I-565. We know they definitely came from outside our building. Guests were inside the building. There were no injuries.

"We notified our guests and they all exited the building in a safe and orderly manner," Hall said. "Huntsville police responded immediately and they are investigating. At this time we don't have any additional information."

Hall said space center officials are evaluating the damage to the Saturn V, which is a National Historic Landmark. He wasn't immediately sure if damaging it would be a federal crime.


Credit: The Huntsville Times/Michael Mercier

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA, USA
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posted 05-03-2012 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lucky it wasn't fueled!!

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 05-03-2012 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any wildlife areas around there? It is hunting season, and a high-caliber bullet can travel an awfully long way when fired at the right upward angle (I know because I got shot once in the Army, from a bullet fired on a training range over a mile away).

Glint
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From: New Windsor, Maryland USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 05-03-2012 05:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, so this is the real Saturn V inside of the building that was shot, not the replica 1:1 scale model standing outside.

That wasn't clear in the above photo, but the photo at the linked site clarifies it.

mikej
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Posts: 374
From: Germantown, WI USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 05-03-2012 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
Any wildlife areas around there? It is hunting season
No, the Rocket Center is in a developed area.

The bullet would have come from the north.

By the way, the picture is of the forward skirt of the S-IVB.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-03-2012 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am in the process of writing this up for an article on collectSPACE with new comments (and the latest details) from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the Smithsonian and the Huntsville Police.

Should be online soon, including hopefully new detailed images of the damage areas, but both bullets that struck the rocket hit the S-IVB but neither punctured the stage. The "hole" in the above photo (and others) is the shadow cast from the paint peeling up.

Greggy_D
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From: Michigan
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posted 05-03-2012 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unbelievable.

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

posted 05-03-2012 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
Any wildlife areas around there? It is hunting season...
Believe me, NOBODY is dumb enough to hunt around there (at least not legally). There are no real wooded areas in that spot for wildlife to hang out and I don't think anyone with a hunting license would risk going to that spot just because there are so many civilians there. It is indeed a rather developed area and I believe within Huntsville's city limits. Even back when there was just a two lane road in front, the area beyond was a field with a bunch of livestock. If maybe it were one bullet hitting the roof of the building, I might be inclined to think that somebody was dumb enough to fire a live round into the air. But three shots says to me it was a deliberate targeting. Thank goodness nobody got hurt (even a hole in a Saturn can be patched).

I think whomever did this will be caught. He (or she) is going to brag to somebody that he shot at "That NASA place there!" When he gets caught, I just wish he could be tied at the bottom of one of Marshall's engine test stands during a live fire test of a rocket motor (assuming NASA had the budget to test one at Marshall right now).

The only thing that puzzles me a little is I-565 is below the level of the USSRC. Somebody would have to be firing up at a weird angle to do that. Now if they were on one of the access roads to the north or south... that would be a more level trajectory.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-03-2012 08:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Gunshots damage historic Saturn V rocket

A historic Saturn V rocket was damaged by gunfire on Thursday (May 3), after someone shot three bullets into the Alabama museum where the mighty moon booster is on permanent display.

The gunshots were fired just before 11:00 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) outside the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. The shots may have been fired from a moving vehicle traveling along Interstate 565, which runs parallel to the booster's window-fronted building, according to the Huntsville Police Department (HPD).

"Preliminary information indicates that there were three rounds fired, hitting 30 to 100 feet [9 to 30 meters] apart, which leads us to believe they were fired from a moving vehicle on the interstate," HPD communications director Harry Hobbs wrote in an e-mail to collectSPACE.

"The rounds were likely fired from a rifle, judging from the velocity needed to penetrate the glass," Hobbs said.

arjuna
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posted 05-04-2012 12:15 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Appalling but not surprising that there are people out there that are that senseless and dumb.

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 05-04-2012 12:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If fired from the highway, it'd have to be a bunch of shots fired fast, had to be from a semi-auto if from a moving vehicle at highway speed. It depends how close the bullet holes are together.

I noticed the holes look relatively small but it's hard to tell the scale. Looks like something in the .30 caliber to 8MM range, clearly rifle shots to go through windows, the rocket and out the back the building if the story is accurate about that.

The problem is that unless someone actually saw the vehicle as the shots were fired or the shooter brags about it later on, there's no way you're going to find out who did this. For all we know, the Saturn was only the background, it could have been a shooting intended for someone ON the highway as they were going past this...

APG85
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posted 05-04-2012 03:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank goodness nobody was injured. They've done a beautiful job with that center and the Saturn V restoration. It's a shame somebody would take shots at it...

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA, USA
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posted 05-04-2012 06:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Glint:
Oh, so this is the real Saturn V inside of the building that was shot, not the replica 1:1 scale model standing outside.

Glint I believe the outside replica is a 90% scale model. I know, sounds odd, but it's what I've been told. Can anyone confirm?

Atlantis
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From: Cullman, AL
Registered: Dec 2007

posted 05-04-2012 07:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Atlantis   Click Here to Email Atlantis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I remember correctly from what my Space Camp instructor said. The rocket is full scale except for the escape tower, which is a bit oversized so that a workman can fit inside to service the airplane warning light on top.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-04-2012 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Penwal Industries, the company that built the Saturn V replica for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the mock rocket stands more than 360 feet tall and is full scale.

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

posted 05-04-2012 08:25 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 p51:
If fired from the highway, it'd have to be a bunch of shots fired fast, had to be from a semi-auto if from a moving vehicle at highway speed. It depends how close the bullet holes are together.
As noted in our article, the bullets struck the rocket/building 30 to 100 feet apart. It is not uncommon for cars to slow down when passing the area, if not for the view of the Saturn V inside the Davidson, then for the sight of the vertical Saturn V standing beside it. I've done it myself.
quote:
For all we know, the Saturn was only the background, it could have been a shooting intended for someone ON the highway as they were going past this...
The building is not at street level. It is raised above the highway, so the shooter would have had to been aiming above any passing cars. The shots hit between 20 and 35 feet above visitors' heads in the building too, so the aim was high.

With that said, I'm not sure it serves a good purpose to speculate on the conditions, especially when not familiar with the landscape. The Huntsville Police Department and U.S. Space & Rocket Center have said they would keep collectSPACE updated on the status of the investigation, and of course, I will share those updates on this thread.

Gilbert
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From: Carrollton, GA USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 05-04-2012 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've always heard the standing Saturn was a 9/10 scale. I have an old newspaper article somewhere telling about it's delivery and the article said 90% scale. I'm not sure if it's true or not, but if not I have personally perpetuated a mistake many times over the years.

That someone would fire into the Saturn V building is unbelievable.

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

posted 05-04-2012 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The standing Saturn V replica is 100% scale (maybe some dimensions are a little off, but not the length). It wouldn't make any sense to do it 10% smaller as the engineering challenges are going to be about the same when one does it at that size. The escape rocket shaft is a little larger in diameter for somebody to change the bulb of the flashing beacon in it periodically, but it is still the correct length.

It wouldn't entirely surprise me somebody took a shot at this rocket IF it were in another part of Alabama (closer to the coast for instance). But most of the folks in Huntsville are a pretty level headed lot, given the close proximity of the Redstone Arsenal (Marshall SFC is on those grounds) and the number of people living there who have worked in the space and defense industries.

mikej
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From: Germantown, WI USA
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posted 05-04-2012 04:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a precedent for Saturn stages being shot at. From Stages to Saturn:
After tests at Sacramento, S-IVB stages were sometimes carried by barge and freighter either directly to the Atlantic Missile Range (by way of the Panama Canal and the Gulf of Mexico), or indirectly to MSFC-a 14-day voyage up the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee rivers to Huntsville for testing, and back out again. Rifle fire raised a potential hazard for the Saturn rocket stages on the Mississippi and its tributaries. MSFC and contractor authorities began to worry that the huge targets on the barges might attract young boys and their small-bore rifles. Marshall asked for a Coast Guard escort for some of the first trips, not only as protection from adolescent sharpshooters, but also from riverbank moonshiners. John Goodrum, head of MSFC's logistics office, said that he didn't remember that a barge was ever hit, but somebody once put a bullet hole in the pilot house.

Philip
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Posts: 4803
From: Brussels, Belgium
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posted 05-05-2012 05:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If done deliberately, it certainly shows a lack of respect to America's heritage!

Joel Katzowitz
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Posts: 326
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 05-05-2012 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert:
I'm not sure if it's true or not, but if not I have personally perpetuated a mistake many times over the years.
I had always heard the standing Saturn V mock up was scaled to 90%. But, come to think of it, it was Gary and Gilbert who told me that.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 05-05-2012 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the Huntsville Police Department, the weapon used in the Saturn V shooting may have been a high-powered rifle with 308-caliber bullets.

HPD is continuing to interview witnesses to the incident.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-18-2012 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Conservation Solutions Inc., which oversaw the 2006 repair and restoration to the Saturn V at Johnson Space Center and the same for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Saturn V in 2005, is now conducting the repair to the latter rocket after the recent shooting.

The minor repair, which mostly involves patching and painting the damaged areas, is expected to be completed on Tuesday (June 19).


Credit: USSRC

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 07-12-2012 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I assume the police have given up their search? With no suspects cited in the media, I think it'll take what Jay Chladek mentioned of someone dumb enough to brag about this to someone for them to be caught by now. Looking for an unknown someone with a .30 caliber to 8MM rifle in Northern Alabama is the proverbial needle in a haystack situation. Without a witness or someone willing to admit it, they're never going to be found, sadly.

All times are CT (US)

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