HOUSTON’S WAREHOUSED ROCKETSHIP Comparing it to displays of Saturn rockets in Florida and Alabama, space historian Dwayne Day finds Space Center Houston’s model of the Apollo program leftover parked in a Johnson Space Center shed structure and looking somewhat forlorn: “. . . the building containing the Saturn V is starting to deteriorate. Interior insulation is starting to crack and peel, showing considerable degradation from my last visit a year ago. This simply reinforces the impression that the Saturn V is being stored in a big garage. Houston has had the Saturn V for decades. It has housed it indoors for almost seven years, and yet the city has not improved the presentation or shown any indication that it intends to display the Saturn V with any of the affection and intelligence that the Kennedy and Huntsville communities have given to their Saturn Vs. If you look at what Houston has done it is hard not to wonder if they would have treated a shuttle orbiter with the same indifference.” [Space Review; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Dwayne Day
COMMENT OF THE DAY: JUST TO DRAG A SHUTTLE MOCKUP INTO HOUSTON “. . . I contacted the JSC’s PAO Office and found out that it was originally due here on March 10th but an area from the channel to JSC’s dock would have to be dredged in order to accommodate the tug pushing the barge. Current estimates have pushed the delivery time to some time in July. . . . I feel that the mock-up coming to JSC is a ray of hope on an otherwise bleak future. . . .” [Neal_K, commenting on Space Center Houston Getting KSC Space Shuttle Mockup Hand-Me-Down, Compartment Trainer, New Building]
Houston may have missed out on its opportunity to play host to one of the 4 retired orbiters doled out recently by NASA. But it will end up with a space-shuttle-related attraction that jibes well with the Johnson Space Center’s longtime role as a practice and simulation site for training astronauts. Space news website CollectSpace is reporting that Space Center Houston will soon receive the Space Shuttle Explorer, a full-size orbiter mockup currently on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
One advantage of the Explorer over the 4 orbiters Houstonians wanted but couldn’t get (besides not having any layers of space dust to clean off): Visitors will be able to walk through it.
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A ROCKETSHIP RELAUNCH FOR THE JOHNSON SPACE CENTER? Construction of the new Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the first new NASA spacecraft built for manned orbit since 1991, began earlier this week — in New Orleans (photo). And final assembly will take place in Florida. But a “senior administration official” tells space-beat reporter Todd Halvorson that the new 30-story tall Space Launch System for Orion that NASA is announcing today — with the strong support of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison — will provide a “stable future” for Houston’s Johnson Space Center and 3 other human-space-flight facilities around the country. [Florida Today; NASA] Photo: NASA
JUST ANOTHER HOUSTON HOMEBUILDER “But there are plenty of challenges to overcome first. To camp on the moon, astronauts need to be shielded from solar radiation. In a waterless environment every drop of H2O, including sweat and urine, must be recycled and purified. NASA engineers are sorting through dozens of possible models for the lunar outpost—from horizontal, aluminum cylinders to inflatable structures that are essentially giant, Kevlar-reinforced balloons.” [Smithsonian]
CNET’s Daniel Terdiman takes a tour of the Johnson Space Center and comes back with some photos of equipment and facilities being developed for Constellation, the back-to-the-moon project scheduled to begin launching in 2013. (The Space Shuttle program will be phased out by 2010.)
For those of us interested in the latest in Houston interiors technology, Terdiman includes photos of a mockup of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, meant to take the next generation of astronauts to the moon and beyond. Is that a strip of velcro on the wall on the right? Cool!
Doesn’t look so exciting to you? Hey, they’ve got 5 years to work on it!
After the jump: The Orion capsule mockup from the outside, plus the new 12-wheeler parked outside!
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