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Here was the complete 3-part package: The Crawler, on bottom, was two stories. The Transporter was on top of the Crawler and was three more stories. On the top of the Transporter the Shuttle was attached. This photo is of the Atlantis on the Crawlerway.

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NASA has two Crawlers. They are usually parked at the yard adjacent to the Orbiter Process Facilities and across the street from the VAB. Sometimes one is parked at a yard on the roadway to Pads 39-A and 39-B where those visiting the Visitor’s Center can see them on their way to a viewing stand.

The Crawler/Transporter is a behemoth. Consider these basics —

Weight: 2,721 metric tons (6 million pounds)
Length: 40 meters (131 ft) wide, 35 meters (114ft) long
Miles: 2,526 miles (1,243 miles since 1977)

The Crawler has her on road known as the Crawlerway.

She only runs on this specially built dual highway of Mississippi rock between the VAB, her storaage yards and Pads 39-A and 39-B. Each time she heads out for a cruise on her highway, she so completely flattens the rocks on the roadbed that the rocks must be “fluffed” after each trip, and replaced, on average after she’s been over them ten times.

Each cleats on each of her eight tracks weighs one ton.

Getting a Shuttle to the Launching Pad was a two step process.

Terry Berman is manager of Crawler Operations. Previously he was in charge of Pad 39-B which has been torn down and will be re-purposed for still-to-be-determined later space missions.

First the Shuttle was towed to the Vehicle Assembly building from its hangar (known as an OFP — or Orbiting Processing Facility). In the VAB the shuttle was harnessed in the Transit Aisle and then hoisted 500 feet to the top of the VAB, and then moved laterally into one of two “High Bays”. The shuttle was then lowered and secured to the Crawler/Transporter.

The Crawler and Transporter are two separate pieces. The system, in use since the Apollo Moon program in the 1960s, will survive to serve the next generation of space vehicle. The vehicle with its tracks is the base. The Transporter is secured on top of the Crawler, and then a vehicle is secured to the Transporter.

Once a vehicle is safely secured, the Transporter sets out for the launch pad at eight-tenths of a mile per hour. Unloaded it can do about 2 mph.

The Crawler tilts.

As the Crawler climbs the final yards to the launching pad, it climbs a hill. As it climbs the Crawler has internal devices which tilt the Transporter keeping the Shuttle level (otherwise there is a risk that it would fall off). Once the Crawler has delivered the Transporter and the vehicle to the launch pad, it drives away. The vehicle is then launched a few weeks later.
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Entry to the Crawler yard is through a tightly controlled fence, inside a tightly controlled area. The last use of a Crawler was to move a launching device built for the now-cancelled Constellation program to and from Pad 39-B in November 2011. The Crawler, while they will be carefully preserved and maintained, may not be used again until 2017. NASA appears to have little, if any, support from President Obama and his administration.

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The control room. Surprisingly the Crawler has only one floor and inside it is almost all engines. It can be driven from either end in small cabs where drivers switch off every two hours. Systems are monitored here when the Crawler is moving. A team also walks with the Crawler on the ground and visually observes it when the Crawler is in motion.

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The inside of the Crawler which is accessed by climbing a rickety stairway is almost all engines except for the control room. The Shuttle is not driven from the control room, but systems are monitored there.

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A catwalk circles the entire second floor of the Crawler. There is no first floor, and the third floor is a flat surface where the Transporter is attached. This photograph is from on end of the Crawler looking back toward the other end.,

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Cockpit of the Crawler. There are two cockpits, one on opposite ends allowing the Crawling to be driven in both directions. It takes about 18 months of training to become a driver. When driving, drivers generally drive about two hours, then switch off. The drive from the VAB to the launch pads generally took 6+ hours at less than 1 mph.

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Portapottie. A temporary bathroom is discretely tucked on one end of the Crawler. This is the only restroom on the Crawler.

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The Crawler’s eight tracks are massive. Each clete, specially made by only one factory, weighs 2,000 pounds and yes, they do wear out and have to be replaced.

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This is the second of the two cockpits on the opposite end of the Crawler from the cockpit picture above. The cockpits and the driving controls (just below) appear identical.

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Have a seat and let’s go. There are no speed limits on the Crawlerway, but then again top speed of the Crawler is less than 2 mph. The driver has no seatbelt.

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The cockpit is small, but has room comfortably for the driver and a second person. This photograph was taken from the middle of the Crawler on the “second’ floor. There is no first or third floor.

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The Crawler stands tall enough that autos and trucks can easily drive underneath. Fully loaded with a transporter, the Crawler stands five stories high. When photographing the Crawler and Transporter with a shuttle secured to it, the media was taken to the fifth floor of the VAB where they were level with the top of the Transporter and where their photographs appears to be at ground level, but were actually more than 50′ or five stories above the ground..

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Peter M. Crow standing exactly in the center underneath the Crawler allowing perspective to the Crawler’s massive size.

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This photograph is taken standing on the ground and looking up at the Crawler.

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This is the exact 180-degree view from the photograph just above.

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Carol Anne Swagler stands on one of the two pebble covered tracks which serve as the Crawler’s highway to the two launch pads. Ms. Swagler, a veteran newspaper woman, was working as a photographer for an Oklahoma newsapaper, The Grove Sun Daily. In the waning days of the shuttle program, Ms. Swagler was frequently accredited to photograph the shuttle and other NASA launches at the Cape. The Grove Sun Daily, unusual for a small daily, sent reporters and photographers to cover the space program frequently, all the way back to the Apollo 17 moon launch in 1972; its community had a NASA sub-contractor. In the background over Ms. Swagler’s shoulder is the Vehicle Assembly Building. The Crawler and shuttle are heading toward Ms. Swagler — she had walked on ahead. If she had not moved — which she did — the Crawler would have flattened her and there would have been no more trips to the Cape for Ms. Swagler.

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tell me MORE — read more about the Crawler/Transporter on the NASA site HERE

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.”petecrow/NASA” © 2011 by / Peter M. Crow and the Peter Michael Crow Trust and by Seine/Harbour® Productions, LLC, Studio City, California.

NASA MARS-BOUND ROVER BEGINS RESEARCH IN SPACE
from NASA, December 13, 2011 Tuesday

Pete Crow photograph of the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, Saturday morning, November 26, 2011, from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

WASHINGTON — NASA’s car-sized Curiosity rover has begun monitoring
space radiation during its 8-month trip from Earth to Mars. The
research will aid in planning for future human missions to the Red
Planet.

Curiosity launched on Nov. 26 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., aboard the
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). The rover carries an instrument called
the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) that monitors high-energy
atomic and subatomic particles from the sun, distant supernovas and
other sources.

These particles constitute radiation that could be harmful to any
microbes or astronauts in space or on Mars. The rover also will
monitor radiation on the surface of Mars after its August 2012
landing.

“RAD is serving as a proxy for an astronaut inside a spacecraft on the
way to Mars,” said Don Hassler, RAD’s principal investigator from the
Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.”The instrument is deep
inside the spacecraft, the way an astronaut would be. Understanding
the effects of the spacecraft on the radiation field will be valuable
in designing craft for astronauts to travel to Mars.”

Previous monitoring of energetic-particle radiation in space has used
instruments at or near the surface of various spacecraft. The RAD
instrument is on the rover inside the spacecraft and shielded by
other components of MSL, including the aeroshell that will protect
the rover during descent through the upper atmosphere of Mars.

The "days to launch" sign during the Shuttle missions was on State Road 3 but, surprise, for the Mars Science Laboratory launch it popped up just inside the State Highway 405 guard gate.

Spacecraft structures, while providing shielding, also can contribute
to secondary particles generated when high-energy particles strike
the spacecraft. In some circumstances, secondary particles could be
more hazardous than primary ones.

These first measurements mark the start of the science return from a
mission that will use 10 instruments on Curiosity to assess whether
Mars’ Gale Crater could be or has been favorable for microbial life.

“While Curiosity will not look for signs of life on Mars, what it
might find could be a game- changer about the origin and evolution of
life on Earth and elsewhere in the universe,” said Doug McCuistion,
director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in
Washington. “One thing is certain: the rover’s discoveries will
provide critical data that will impact human and robotic planning and
research for decades.”

As of noon EST on Dec. 14, the spacecraft will have traveled 31.9
million miles (51.3 million kilometers) of its 352-million-mile
(567-million-kilometer) flight to Mars. The first trajectory
correction maneuver during the trip is being planned for mid-January.

Southwest Research Institute, together with Christian Albrechts
University in Kiel, Germany, built RAD with funding from the Human
Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters,
Washington, and Germany’s national aerospace research center,
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt.

The mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for
the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The mission’s
rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

Information about the mission is available at:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl

The Shuttle each had three Main Engines that were fired up on the words “Go at Throttle Up” after the booster engines had been exhausted and discarded. These remarkably complex machines, which are profiled in an extensive photographic post below (scan down and root around), have 50,000 parts and in 135 flights never failed.

With the shuttle program ended, the 14 remaining Main Engines will be placed in storage in Mississippi and, when they are trucked out of the KSC Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility in Florida, the engines will likely not be seen again for a decade or more.

For that reason NASA public relations personnel in Florida worked hard in December 2011 to get media access to the SSMEPF before the engines began to be shipped.

This diagram of the design of the Main Engines, shown here only in part, hangs in the SSMEPF office. Copies are also on work tables in the bay areas where the engines were serviced.

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.”petecrow/NASA” © 2011 by / Peter M. Crow and the Peter Michael Crow Trust and by Seine/Harbour® Productions, LLC, Studio City, California.

(CLICK to ENLARGE) The SSMEPF is on two levels. This is a map of the main level. The facility was built by Boeing in 1998 and adjoins OPF-3. In 2011, with the shuttle program ended, Boeing took over OPF-3 and is expected also to take over the SSMEPF when the last of the shuttles are shipped to Mississippi for storage.

When a Space Shuttle landed it was immediately towed back to one of three Orbiter Processing Facilities (known as OPF-1, OPF-2 and OPF-3). Each OPF served as a hangar for one shuttle, but also as a faciklity where the shuttle received a complete post flight inspection that included replacement of tiles, parts and fluids.

The three main engines at the rear of the Shuttle were removed almost immediately after arrival at the OPF by the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility (SSMEPF) personnel. The engines were taken to the SSMEPF adjoining OPF-3 and placed together in a glorified oven for eight hours, at a temperature of 160 degrees, to completely dry the engines.

Then the engines were serviced, placed in storage in the climate controlled SSMEPF to await another flight.

How many Main Engines did and does NASA have? At the beginning of the program in 1981, NASA has four shuttles and fifteen engines. Three for each shuttle (12) and an additional three spare engines. During the program six engines were lost — three in the Challenger accident, and three in the Columbia accident. The Challenger was replaced, as were its engines. At the end of the program, counting replacements, NASA had fourteen engines remaining.

Are the engines on Discovery at the Smithsonian the real engines? No. There was discussion about the Smithsonian wanting the Main Engines to be left on the Shuttle Discovery, the oldest survivor in the fleet.

It didn’t happen.

The engines on the Discovery, placed on the shuttle on December 5, 6 and 7, 2011 in OPF-1, are primarily pieces of other engines, including parts that were test parts. The engines on the Discovery when she arrives at the Air and Space Mueaum at Dulles Airport in Washington, DC, are not engines that ever flew in space.

(CLICK to ENLARGE) The SSMEPF is located across the street from the Vehicle Assembly Building in the area that includes all three shuttle hangars which were known as Orbiter Processing Facilities or OPFs.

In the 135 space shuttle flights there were zero failures, and zero problems with these engines.

They are remarkably complex pieces of technology composed of 50,000 parts. Each engine is 14 feet (4.2 meters) long and 7.5 feet (2.25 meters) in diameter at the end of its nozzle.

Each engines weighs 7,000 pounds.

And the engines generated different amount of power. The meant that, because the engines were interchangeable, a shuttle could be outfilled with either more powerful, or less powerful, engines depending on the mission.

The Processing Facility building. Until 1998 the Main Engines were serviced and maintained in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Then a 34,600 square foot building was built to house the engine facility adjoining OPF-3. The building was designed and built by Boeing-Rocketdyne’s Space Shuttle Main Engine Team.

What happens to the Engines now? All engines will be shipped, at the rate of one a month, to the NASA John C. Stennis Facility in Mississippi for storage. There they will await the next space missions which are expected to be similar to the Apollo program where all engines were lost during re-entry and discarded in the ocean. In other words, while these engines each have flown in space many times, they likely will fly in space only once more and will be discarded.

In the facility six engines could be worked on at a time on two levels.

The full two-page fact sheets of the SSMEPF is at the bottom of this post.
To read, click on the image to enlarge it.

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Six engines can be worked on at a time, and three can be wired up and monitored on three separate control boards located on the second floor just behind these bays.


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Three engines were lined up and awaiting preparation for shipment to Mississippi in December 2011.


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The six work bays are on the left. Several engines are on the right. This is another view of the bay work area.


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Each shuttle Main Engine had a number, like this one -- #2044. They were closely monitored for performance, and each -- although technically identical -- performed slightly differently in terms of power delivered. This is as common in automobiles as it is in any type of equipment, including shuttle engines.


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When shuttles landed, they were taken to one of three hangars (known as OPFs = Orbiter Processing Facility) and their engines were immediately removed and taken here -- to the Drying Room in the SSMEPF. Here for 8 hours, side by side, the three engines that had just returned from space were dried in a sealed room at 160-degrees. Water and condensation were huge enemies of the engines and, need we mention? -- the ocean and salt water is only a couple of miles from the SSMEPF. Once dried, the engines remained in the temperature and humidty controlled SSMEPF until it was time to place them on another shuttle for another mission.


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The shuttle engines will be placed in this type of container for shipment to Mississippi. Once 150 people worked in the Space Shuttle Main Engine Facility. Today only 40-45 mechanics remain, and when the last engine is shipped, they will be gone as well. It is expected that Boeing, who has already taken over the OPF-3 next door, will take this space. In 1998 Boeing designed and built the SSMEPF.


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A Main Engine, looiking upward. The top would be inside the shuttle. The engines were stood on end to be serviced. This engine is stored on end.


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The upper part of the engine on the second floor where most of the engine work was done. The engines were rolled into the bay, then floor (behind the engine in this picture) was secured into place allowing mechanics to work and walk around the entire engine. The engines were manufactured in Canoga Park, California. Six were lost in flight on Challenger and Columbia. Fourteen remain.


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Three engines could be tested at a time, and a total of six could be worked on in the six bays. There are three Main Engine Pressure Supply Panels (one of which is shown on the right) which were connected to the engines (on left rear) when an engine was being tested.


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Maintaining and servicing the engines took an enormous amount of specialized tools. These tools will be packed and sent along with the engines for storage and later use.


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Lead Bob Petrie who worked at KSC for 25 years gave the media a detailed tour of his facility. Once the SSMEPF operated 24 hours a day, but as the program wound down the days slipped only to eight hours, and while the facility remained climate controlled, it was empty and dark most of the time once the end of the program approached.


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One of two SSME Leads is Bob Petrie. Mr. Petrie has worked on the Main Engines for 25 years and been a lead (head guy) for 12. His official title is Technical Operations Lead, Pratt and Whitney/Rocketdyne. Mr. Petrie guided us through the SSME allowing us access to everything including his office.


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.”petecrow/NASA” © 2011 by / Peter M. Crow and the Peter Michael Crow Trust and by Seine/Harbour® Productions, LLC, Studio City, California.

On Sunday, December 11, 2011, the high fidelity Space Shuttle mockup that has been at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center was moved 5.6 miles from the Visitor’s Center to the Media Press Site 39 parking lot adjacent to the turning basin. In March this shuttle, known as “Explorer” while at the Kennedy Space Center, will be placed on a barge and sent to Galveston, Texas, and then on to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for permanent display.

The move took about three hours, starting about 7:30 am and ending about 11 am.

The Shuttle mockup leaving the Visitor Center. This mockup never flew in space. With it gone, the Visitor Center will build a special building to house a real Shuttle which is expected to be on display in late 2012 or early 2013.


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This photograph was taken at Location 4. This is the intersection of Schwartz Road and Contractor Road. The Shuttle has turned north and is headed up Contractor Road past the Railroad Engines. Movement of the Explorer, as it was known while at the Visitor's Center, went much quicker than expected. Originally the media was told movement would begin at 7:30 am and taken until 3 pm. In actuality movement began at 8:30am and ended at 11 am.


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This photograph was taken at Location 7 (see map of route below). Nearing the end of its 5.6 mile journey to the Pad 39 Media site parking lot, adjacent to the turning basin, the movers stopped the shuttle move for awhile to allow photographs in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Then they gathered and photographed themselves in a group shot.


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(Location 7) A few hundred yards from the Pad 39 Media site parking lot, and the Turning Basin, the mover-guys pulled over, piled out and allowed the media to takes pictures of the shuttle, and of themselves, in front of the VAB. Then, with the media done, they piled in front of the shuttle and their truck, for pictures of their own. These guys finished what was expected to be a 7.5 hour journey of 5.6 miles in a tidy 2.5 hours. They were so good that everybody was home in time for Sunday lunch and the afternoon football games.


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Carol Anne Swagler, self portrait. Ms. Swagler is accredited as a photographer and, you will note, she got herself entirely in the photograph but only half of the Shuttle. She would argue, and we would agree, she got most of what she was going for in this picture. Ms. Swagler took 267 photographs of the move on Sunday, December 11, 2011. Patricia Christian (in red behind Ms. Swagler), NASA public relations, was one of several escorts on Sunday. (Location 7).


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(CLICK to ENLARGE) This is the route from Visitor's Center to the parking lot at the press site. The media photographed the movement from 8 sites marked on this map.

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.”petecrow/NASA” © 2011 by / Peter M. Crow and the Peter Michael Crow Trust and by Seine/Harbour® Productions, LLC, Studio City, California.

This photographs was taken inside the Shuttle Discovery’s rear engine compartment on December 5, 2011 while Discovery was being prepared to be turned over to the Smithsonian’s museum at Dulles Airport, Washington, DC.

Discovery was scheduled to go to the museum originally in January 2012, but later was expected to be surrendered to the Smithsonian in April 2012. This picture was taken while engines were being reinstalled.

The full picture is just below in the following post.
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Seine/Harbour™ Productions, Studio City, California, owns the copyrights to all literary and photographic content of “petecrow/NASA”, © 2008-2011, The Peter Michael Crow Trust, and Seine/Harbour™ Productions. Seine/Harbour™ aggressively monitors the internet and quite ruthlessly protects its copyrights. Pursuing copyright abridgment and suing violators has become a profit center for us.

One of three engines in lifted and reinstalled in Discovery the morning of December 5, 2011. The engines are not the actual engines that flew on Discovery although they look the same.

December 5, 2011 … today the first of the three engines of the Shuttle Discovery (OV-103) was reinstalled on the shuttle. It took about four hours. The other two engines were to be installed later in the week. Discovery will go to the Smithsonian at Dulles Airport, Washington, DC. She is expected to be sent there in April 2012.

Discovery by several estimates is now about 85-percent ready for the museum. In a few weeks she will be entirely ready and then they will figure out how to get her to Washington. Almost certainly she will be flown there on the back of a 747. Shuttles were returned to Florida on the back of one of two NASA Boeing 747s when they landed somewhere else besides Florida.

Discovery is expected to weigh about two-thirds of her fully tricked out flying weight of 190-tons because of all that has been removed from her. The 190-tons was base weight, without payload.
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Engine which is about to be placed back into Engine Slot #1 on the Shuttle Discovery.


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Rear of the Shuttle Discovery from high in OPF-1 (Orbiter Processing Facility #1). There were three OPFs -- only two remain now that OPF-3 have been turned over to Boeing. A total of five operational shuttles were built, but because NASA never had more than four at any one time, only three OPFs were needed -- one for three of the shuttles, while the fourth shuttle was either in orbit, or in the VAB or on the pad preparing for flight.


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The engine being replaced is in the center of the picture. The back of the shuttle is on the left. The bay doors of OPF-1 are on the right. OPF-1 is just a few yards from the Vehicle Assembly Building. OPF-2 is beside it, and OPF-3 is across the street.


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The tail of the shuttle Discovery is in top center of this photo. The engine, still on the carrier, is in the center of this photograph.


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This panel is on the starboard side, rear, of the shuttle and opens into the back end of the shuttle. Here assistants can help in the installation of the shuttle engines or in their removal.


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This is inside the rear of the shuttle. To the upper left the engine is being installed. A man, with his hand holding onto a railing, is seen in the center left of this picture.


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The engine is nearly installed. This picture was taken a moment after my photograph inside the rear of the shuttle was taken. A white room, where booties are required on feet, and id cards must be surrendered, is adjacent where the cargo bay of the shuttle is located. No one is allowed into OFP-1 with cell phones or any device, such as remote car door openers, which emit an electrical signal.


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This is the cargo bay of the Shuttle Discovery looking toward the front of the shuttle. We are on the starboard side looking toward the port side. With the shuttle program over, few reporters or photographers show up for NASA events. Only 178 registered for the November launch of the Mars Science Laboratory launch. Less than ten expressed interest in spending half a day in OPF-1 watching the engines be replaced -- and only 5 photographers and reporters actually showed up.


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The media was given wide access to the shuttle, although they could not step on board. Here Pete Crow lies on his back under the front nose wheel of the shuttle and photographs the underside of the shuttle looking backward toward the tail. And, yes, those are his feet on the bottom right of the picture to give size perspective to this photograph.


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A conference room sits just off the back rear of the shuttle near the large entry doors.


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Entry to the OPFs is tightly controlled. Without a card, you can neither enter nor leave without triggering alarms. As you enter the OPF you are facing a desk where access is further controlled. Moreover, at strategic places, people sit with desks monitoring what tools are passing various points, logging them -- and workers -- in and out. Foreign objects inadvertently left on board the shuttle could have been fatal in space. This is a side view of the entry point desk. The shuttle is on our left, and the conference room (above) is on our right.

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.”petecrow/NASA” © 2011 by / Peter M. Crow and the Peter Michael Crow Trust and by Seine/Harbour® Productions, LLC, Studio City, California.