Endeavour’s assembly at the Science Center begins with lifting the 52-ton rockets into place

Endeavour’s assembly at the Science Center begins with lifting the 52-ton rockets into place

Space Shuttle Endeavour

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

The Space Shuttle Endeavor’s two giant rockets will be lifted by a crane next week and locked into place atop the vehicle’s rear skirts in a first step to assembling the shuttle’s full configuration at the future Samuel Oshin Air and Space Center.

The two solid rocket engines — each weighing 104,000 pounds and the size of the fuselage of a Boeing 757 — were transported by truck in early October from the Mojave Air and Space Port to the science center in South Los Angeles.

“It’s very exciting. These are the first large, long pieces of the pile to enter the building,” said Jeffrey Rudolph, head of the California Science Center. Each solid rocket motor is 116 feet long and makes up most of the length of the 149-foot solid rocket boosters. At liftoff, the white solid rocket boosters were positioned beneath Endeavor’s wings and produced more than 80% of the lift force during liftoff.

On Monday, the engines will be moved from their current location — next to the museum’s dining terraces — a few hundred feet from the construction site.

The first important action begins on Tuesday, when the science center will lift the first solid rocket motor into place. The museum expects a live broadcast of the installation.

The second engine will be installed no later than November 8.

The installation process will be completed using two cranes, a small one to lift the missiles from horizontal to vertical position, and a large one to lift them into place. Each rocket will be mounted atop the solid rocket booster base – the tail skirts, which stand 9 feet tall and were moved into place in July.

Work is scheduled to begin Tuesday around 8 a.m., and it will likely take an hour to lift the rocket into place.

“But what will take longer — hopefully not much longer, but likely much longer — is putting approximately 180 pins into the back of the solid rocket motor,” Rudolph said. The installation of the screws may take a few hours or may last until overnight. Each pin is 1 inch in diameter and approximately 2 inches long.

“If everything, as you lower it and place it, is in really good alignment, the pins basically slide in. If they don’t, each pin needs some yanking and bashing to get the pin in,” Rudolph said.

Once the solid rocket motors are installed, the final piece to complete the solid rocket boosters are the tips – the so-called front assembly, including the nose cones and front skirts. The museum must assemble scaffolding for installation to take place.

Complete assembly of the boosters would pave the way for installation of the orange external tank, which will not take place before early January.

Finally, the Endeavor spacecraft will be installed no later than the last week of January. The cranes — the tallest of which will be roughly the height of City Hall — will lift Endeavor from its horizontal position to point vertically at the stars for its final display. The rest of the museum will then be built around it.

Once completed, the $400 million Samuel Oshin Air and Space Center will rise 20 stories. It will be the only space shuttle exhibit nationwide to depict the spacecraft as if it were on the launch pad, ready for liftoff.

The new museum wing has been anticipated since 2011 when NASA selected the science center as one of only three museums in the United States to permanently house three of the surviving space shuttles.

Since Endeavour’s arrival in 2012, the orbiter has been on display in the temporary Samuel Oshin Pavilion, essentially a warehouse, where it has been viewed for the past decade, and where it will be on display until December 31. After that date, it could be years before Endeavor is again available for up-close viewing by museum guests.

2023 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

the quote: Endeavor assembly at Science Center begins with 52-ton rockets lifted into place (2023, November 4) Retrieved November 4, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-11-endeavor-science-center-ton -rockets. programming language

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