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Inside the Mummification of Space Shuttle Discovery

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the intersection-of-sad-and-fascinating dept.

NASA 98

longacre writes "When Space Shuttle Discovery goes on display at the Smithsonian next month, it will be a shell of its former self, with most of its critical systems removed. This article has a behind-the-scenes look at the removal of the engines and their replica replacements, as well as photos of the orbiter in various states of deconstruction. 'From the very beginning it was understood by all parties involved — including the orbiter recipients — that the orbiters will be made safe and inert prior to display, as was made clearly evident in NASA’s request for proposals to house the orbiters. Discovery’s preparation for display took a year and cost approximately $28 million. Since the Smithsonian is a federally owned institution, this cost was borne by the U.S. government, unlike the other institutions that have to foot the bill for the preparation and delivery of the orbiters. The price tag did not stop the frantic push to get one by an eager group of contenders. At stake was not only a piece of American history and the prestige of housing an orbiter but the potential draw for millions of new paying visitors to the recipient museums.'"

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So, how much for one of the engines? (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488073)

Let's see that wise-ass kid from next door beat me in his rice-burner once I drop one of *those* babies into my SUV.

BTW, does anyone know if consumer-grade tires can handle 420,000 lbs. of thrust?

YES... (1)

mortonda (5175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488373)

Someone knows.

For somewhat lest thrust, you could always watch the episode of mythbusters where they used three model rocket motors.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (2)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488645)

well the beauty of using one of these engines on a car would be that you wouldn't have to worry about if the tires could handle the torque to transfer the energy into motion.. this thing just pushes you, so your limit on tires is going to be the overall weight of the car and the speed rating as they only have to roll and carry a load..

but something tells me that this sucker is going to be heavier and going to push you faster than "consumer-grade" tires can do as most tires have a 2k lbs and 110mph limit..

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (3, Funny)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488955)

If you get it off axis even a tiny bit you also have to worry about side loading, which at 1% would be 4200 pounds. Oh, NM, he said SUV, so it'll easily flip before the tires slip.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (5, Informative)

Robotbeat (461248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489053)

The propulsion systems of Discovery are being used for the initial flights of SLS, the next NASA rocket which is going beyond LEO (first flight will be around the Moon). Why the heck doesn't at least the summary mention that? That's a far better use than rotting in a museum.

"Durr, now that the Shuttles are retired, NASA is being shutdown, right?" Nope.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490303)

Good to know. That also kinda takes the hurt off the $28 million price tag for a gut job.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (4, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489145)

The sad thing is how those engines are going to be put back to work: As a component on the SLS rocket, where they will be shot into space and left to burn up in re-entry as yesterday's leftovers to be literally thrown away.

These engines are some of the most advanced rocket systems ever designed, and purpose built to be reusable, so the only design choice NASA has is to throw them away on expendable rockets?

Not only that, but when NASA runs out of SMEs for the SLS rocket, they will have to come up with a new engine at huge expense, put it through a testing regime, and more or less redesign the rest of the rocket as a whole new vehicle anyway. Even from a financial savings viewpoint I fail to see how that is going to save any money, much less how SpaceX (to give an example) will have spent less for its entire rocket program than NASA is going to spend on this "refit" after the SLS is used up. More like spend about 3x the amount of money that SpaceX has spent to date for everything they've done.

I don't know if I'll have the stomach to witness such waste when the SLS finally flies. Then again, I have significant doubts as to if that program is going to survive into the next presidential administration in America. It isn't even slated to fly until 2017 at the earliest, so it will be somebody other than Barack Obama as president and somebody other than Charles Bolden as administrator of NASA even if it does fly.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489323)

Well, there's a good chance that NASA won't get to the point where it's launching hardware on the SLS. So I wouldn't worry about it yet.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489769)

Rocket motors are effectively custom-made for the launch vehicles they are meant to propel in terms of rated thrust, endurance etc. They're not much use if they run at a lot less than their rated thrust since in that case they're heavier than they need to be and they can't be reworked to provide more thrust in any sort of economic manner since they were built down to a weight budget and will likely break if stressed beyond their design limits.

The SLS proposal started with using the SSMEs as their motors and everything else in the design derived from that point. Usually for reasons of efficiency or practicality it goes the other way round, hence the guys at SpaceX developed their own family of rocket motors to provide a specific thrust characteristic rather than buying something "off the shelf". Things were easier for them though as there was a lot of readily available components, manufacturing gear, materials, computer modelling etc. they could use to come up with their Merlin engines instead of having to reinvent the wheel several times.

Assuming the planned number of SLS launches uses up all of the available SSMEs then it is no real hardship to restart the production lines and make more of them as needed. They are not much more complex to build than any other fully-cryogenic motor currently constructed by various manufacturers especially with fifty years of experience since the first crude LOX/LH2 engines were built and flown.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490047)

Assuming the planned number of SLS launches uses up all of the available SSMEs then it is no real hardship to restart the production lines and make more of them as needed. They are not much more complex to build than any other fully-cryogenic motor currently constructed by various manufacturers especially with fifty years of experience since the first crude LOX/LH2 engines were built and flown.

Other than the fact that the assembly line which built these engines has been shut down for nearly three decades and many of the people who not just built the engines but also were involved with the engineering teams that designed them not only are retired but are pushing up daisies due to old age.... yeah, you might get that assembly line going again. It isn't going to get going again any time soon.

And "any other fully-cryogenic motor" won't fit the bill either. For engines of this size and magnitude, there hasn't been a new rocket motor built even designed for several decades besides the Merlin engines by SpaceX. Companies like Orbital and Lockheed-Martin are even using Russian engines because they don't have the engineers in-house to make them, It is a sad state of American aerospace engineering I'll admit, but the problem is that nobody is doing stuff like that because somebody somewhere thought that we had all of the missiles and rocket engines we would ever need for eternity. Commercial sales of American launchers is so pathetic that it might as well be non-existent as most non-government space launches have been done by either Russia, the ESA, or China (with India getting ready to enter the mix).

There is some hope for the future as there are dozens of much smaller engines (but still capable in theory of orbital spaceflight) that are under development in America, but nothing of the class or scale that would launch the SLS. I just don't see NASA willing to fly a rocket like the N1 that had over 40 rocket engines... which would again require a whole new rocket design.

BTW, as far as SpaceX and the "off the shelf components".... Elon Musk got so disgusted with the supply chain he could find that he brought most of the part production in-house and even purchased several sub-contractors outright and had them move their production facilities to El Segundo to be inside the plant or right next to it. My point is that the replacement of the SLS engine (aka replacing the SSMEs once they've all been used up) is going to need the same sort of effort... an effort that still has yet to be funded by the U.S. Congress no less. So we are talking about a hypothetical rocket engine that has yet to even receive funding much less have any engineers even be devoted to getting it built.

Perhaps instead they will simply purchase Merlin 2 engines for the SLS?

Regardless, I think it is a total waste of a valuable resource to throw away the SSMEs in such a fashion as is currently programmed to happen. This is the "official" path that NASA is taking for the manned spaceflight program, and the one thing that is being used to sacrifice nearly the rest of NASA's budget including deep space missions. The use of the SSMEs is done to "save money", but I fail to see how in the long term (aka 10-20 years) that is going to happen either. It will save over the short term (aka about 2-3 years) some money, but not much.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490215)

And "any other fully-cryogenic motor" won't fit the bill either. For engines of this size and magnitude, there hasn't been a new rocket motor built even designed for several decades besides the Merlin engines by SpaceX. Companies like Orbital and Lockheed-Martin are even using Russian engines because they don't have the engineers in-house to make them, It is a sad state of American aerospace engineering I'll admit, but the problem is that nobody is doing stuff like that because somebody somewhere thought that we had all of the missiles and rocket engines we would ever need for eternity. Commercial sales of American launchers is so pathetic that it might as well be non-existent as most non-government space launches have been done by either Russia, the ESA, or China (with India getting ready to enter the mix).

The Pratt and Whitney RS-68, developed in the late 1990s, handles LOX/liquid hydrogen and has more thrust than the SSME.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490693)

The Pratt and Whitney RS-68, developed in the late 1990s, handles LOX/liquid hydrogen and has more thrust than the SSME.

I can only hope they get the contract when the times comes up. Werner Von Braun's shop has been shut down far too long for NASA to do something like that "in-house" any more.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490925)

Even if they don't get the contract, they're still making those engines for the Delta IV rocket.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491337)

There's also the Vulcain 2, a well-tested fully cryogenic motor generating 1340kN or in your quaint old-fashioned American units about 300,000lbs of thrust with a similar Isp figure to the RS-25 SSMEs.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493493)

Let me know when China, Russia, India, or any other country actual builds and deploys a true re-usable shuttle like launch vehicle. China has been announcing their grandiose plans for increasing their space capabilities for the past 10+ years and still have not shown the capabilities the US displayed 40 years ago. Let the Russian's use their vehicles for ISS supply missions (at least those that don't explode on the launch pad) and allow the US to spend it's time and money on other projects. It already has a reusable launch vehicle in the X-37x series of unmanned vehicles and they are working on producing a manned version. Both of the vehicles are the direct result of the lessons learned in the old Shuttle program and is funded as military projects which fall outside of the NASA budget constraints. The X-37 vehicle's are highly maneuverable in orbit and have atmospheric flight capabilities to make landings a lot easier than the old shuttles. The turn around time between reuse has also been greatly reduced.
The next step needs to use the lessons learned during the ISS project to build an orbital docking facility for re-fueling and maintenance capabilities to reduce the cost and risks involved in launching from the ground. If we ever develop a manned spaceship for exploring the solar system it will need to be built in orbit so creating an orbital facility now would provide more information on how to do it.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494261)

Russia did build one [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39505409)

They launched it ONE time and it was unmanned. Where were the re-use capabilities displayed? Where was the orbital maneuvering capabilities displayed? The project was started as a military endeavor because the Russians were worried about the US using their shuttles as a nuclear launch platform. The Russian program was cancelled after 1 flight. To compare that weak effort against the space shuttle is ridiculous.

Both China and Russia have a lot of advanced and gifted scientists but their projects have never been as good as advertised because of their governments interference and lack of money. Russia almost launched a full nuclear strike in 83 because their satellite system couldn't tell the difference between a normal atmospheric phenomenon and a launch of ICBMs. The one Russian who didn't push the button for the nuclear response was court martial-ed. So my original question stands. What other country has even come close to displaying US space capabilities? China has purchased most of their space technology from Russia and have been trying to steal any additional technology needed from other countries to get thier programs going. The real good thing is if they ever do get their shit together and try to land on the moon it will cause the US to initiate and fund programs to make damn sure China doesn't land there and annex it. China has shown pictures of their stealth fighter but have certainly never shown that it has the same capabilities of the F-22. They claim to be building a cruise missiles to take out aircraft carriers but so far have shown no signs that anything is actually being built and tested and by the time they do produce something shooting down cruise missiles will be easier than it is today. After all cruise missiles are almost as big as a fighter jet and it is not very hard to knock them out of they sky if necessary. The US has been lucky that most of the really smart foreign scientists have migrated to the US because their home countries lack the resources they need to actually develop their ideas. The US is supposed to filled with the dumbest people on the planet but somehow they have managed to become one of the major powers in the world in just about every category. People tend to exaggerate US capabilities and power for the sole purpose of being able to argue that the US is in decline.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (3, Interesting)

Mercano (826132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489919)

Not only that, but when NASA runs out of SMEs for the SLS rocket, they will have to come up with a new engine at huge expense, put it through a testing regime, and more or less redesign the rest of the rocket as a whole new vehicle anyway.

Not quite. Once the stock of RS-25D engines left over from the space shuttle program are used up, they'll be replaced by RS-25Es, a cheaper one-time-use version of the space shuttle main engine. They may need to produce two more sets of the 25Ds before the E's are ready, though. They're reusing the old shuttle engines on a disposable rocket for two reasons: they're already a man-rated design, and the engines themselves are already paid for.

Interesting note, Discovery's engines, at least, may make it to museum some day; looks like they're being earmarked for ground test structures, rather than flight. [nasaspaceflight.com]

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490121)

Didn't you hear? Newt Gingrich wants to start a Lunar colony. [go.com] Of-course no amount of rockets will help him there, what he needs is James Cameron with lots of movie shooting gear.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495267)

Of-course no amount of rockets will help him there

To the contrary, rockets would help get stuff to the Moon, which currently is a big obstacle to a lunar colony.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495305)

First: that's no Moon.

Second:

To the contrary, rockets would help get stuff to the Moon, which currently is a big obstacle to a lunar colony.

- so you are saying that the Moon is a big obstacle to a lunar colony? Obviously, that's what I said, that's why he'll need a lot of movie shooting gear and a professional to do it.

Oh, Gingrich also talked about colonising Mars. He'll need to bring tons of red mud to shoot footage of that environment.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495459)

I'm just saying that a big part of the problem with colonizing the Moon is that you need to be there. Rockets would help you be there.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495853)

And I am just saying that colonising the Moon is just as a fine goal as any to steal a bunch of money, and nobody even has to go there, but fine movie footage can be produced regardless.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490145)

You don't think they could...you know...build more SMEs? It's not like they came from some cache of alien technology and materials that was used up to make the ones they have now...

The SMEs aren't truly reusable, either. They did pretty much get a complete tear-down and rebuild after each launch. They're about as reusable as a Top Fuel dragster engine...

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490815)

The SMEs aren't truly reusable, either. They did pretty much get a complete tear-down and rebuild after each launch. They're about as reusable as a Top Fuel dragster engine...

They are a whole lot sturdier than you would think. The reason why SSMEs needed a complete tear down is in part because NASA had the budget to do it, and because of some design compromises made late in the development of the Space Shuttle. If you ever saw a Shuttle flight and heard the main com channel, you would hear things like "go for 105% burn" or even slightly higher. In other words, NASA was pushing the SSMEs beyond their intended thrust rating on each launch. Had the Space Shuttle stuck with the intended thrust rate of say 80% of its rating and been more conservative on how those engines had been pushed, it is very possible that a Shuttle could have landed at KSC, had a minor "routine" vehicle review, and mounted up on another external tank for another flight in just a week or two without that engine overhaul after each flight.

Well, maybe it could have been more routine. There were other design compromises that made shuttle ground operations incredibly expensive, but the original design of the SSME was intended to be generally reusable and not what it became.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492009)

If you ever saw a Shuttle flight and heard the main com channel, you would hear things like "go for 105% burn" or even slightly higher. In other words, NASA was pushing the SSMEs beyond their intended thrust rating on each launch.

False. Somewhere in the design process, the engineers decided that a certain thrust was going to be 100% Subsequent testing showed that the SSMEs (especially the later, upgraded versions) could safely handle up to 111% of the prototype thrust. So 104.5% is not pushing them beyond their intended thrust.

Specifying power levels over 100% may seem nonsensical, but there was a logic behind it. The 100% level does not mean the maximum physical power level attainable, rather it was a specification decided on during engine development—the expected rated power level. When later studies indicated the engine could operate safely at levels above 100%, these higher levels became standard. Maintaining the original relationship of power level to physical thrust helps reduce confusion, as it created an unvarying fixed relationship so that test data (or operational data from past or future missions) can be easily compared. If the power level was increased, and that new value was said to be 100%, then all previous data and documentation would either require changing, or cross-checking against what physical thrust corresponded to 100% power level on that date.

Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (1)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495397)

I recently watched a video of the shuttle liftoff with a speedometer included. The shuttle had a lousy 0 - 60 mph time, but she really hauls the mail from 60 to 17,000 mph!!!! Those little bastards might smirk until you pass them at the next traffic light at 10,000 mph.

Not really mummified (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488103)

It's not so much mummified as mothballed. Which really begs the question:

What's the deal with having no launch capability? Is it good or is it whack?

Re:Not really mummified (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488177)

What's the deal with having no launch capability? Is it good or is it whack?

Outsourcing.
So that would be "whack".

Re:Not really mummified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489081)

It's not so much mummified as mothballed. Which really begs the question:

What's the deal with having no launch capability? Is it good or is it whack?

No, it doesn't.

The real reason... (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488125)

for mummification and/or embalming, is to make sure the person is actually, really, dead. This isn't mothballing. It's making sure Discovery doesn't fly again.

--
BMO

Re:The real reason... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488235)

True de-milling is when you cut various major structural elements. I haven't heard of anything like that.

Certainly it is not going to fly again. Where would you get SRBs? Where would you get a ET?

Re:The real reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488265)

You would get an ET from space or near your home if it crash landed.

Re:The real reason... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489437)

Where would you get a ET?

Well, if you're close to Washington, D.C., you could try Capitol Hill. Outside of the D.C. area, any corp. boardroom would be a likely place. ;-)

Re:The real reason... (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489807)

Where would you get a ET?

Leave a trail of Reese's Pieces to your place and it will do the rest, loserboy nerd.

Re:The real reason... (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488863)

The real reason for mummification and/or embalming, is to make sure the person is actually, really, dead. This isn't mothballing. It's making sure Discovery doesn't fly again.

I don't know why that post got modded so high. NASA will reuse the engines that it yanks off and much of the gear that's on a Shuttle is either proprietary/secret (eg, TDRSS) or hazardous (toxic chemicals, can catch on fire, etc). There's no point to keep a Shuttle in operating condition since no one intends to fly it again.

Re:The real reason... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489363)

Sounds like a reasonable theory. You wouldn't want someone filling the internal fuel tank then letting the engines rip.

Having said that, it IS a damn shame. A museum is about exhibiting the real past. (At least, in theory.) There's no difference between a shuttle shell and a replica shell. The thing that made the shuttle "The Shuttle" -was- the electronics, the heat shielding, the engines, etc.

Others have argued that there's a lot of top secret stuff on the Shuttle. First, the Russian Shuttle cloned most of the classified stuff so there's really nothing "secret" about it any more to any nation capable of building a shuttle. Second, most of the fundamental technology is from the 1970s/80s. It has long been superseded. It may still be classified, but it's no longer significant.

Then there's the argument about hazardous material. This is a popular complaint in America, that XYZ is hazardous. It always fascinates me. Let's face it - the US is packed with actual hazards (drugs and toxic metals in drinking water, overdosable vitamins in food/drink, antibacterial soap that kills the good bacteria on your skin and leaves you dangerously exposed to deadly kinds, the entire tobacco industry, Microsoft, etc). The heat shielding on the Shuttle is unlikely to be anything like as toxic, provided the tiles are undamaged. Paint the damn thing in a transparent resin if you're that worried, same as they do already with conserved archaeological finds.* It'll be cheaper and still leave you with a genuine Shuttle.

*The resin used is almost entirely chemically inert, so damage to artifacts is close to nil, has minimal impact on observation, and has well-defined properties so can be accounted for when running experiments.

Re:The real reason... (2)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489791)

There's no difference between a shuttle shell and a replica shell.

One who speaks so glibly hasn't considered the Ship of Theseus [wikipedia.org] . The shell is no less the shuttle than the entire shuttle was; otherwise, the shuttle on the ground after a mission and before reconstitution wasn't a shuttle either. I mean, it lost TPS tiles! And burned up fuel!

Unless you're arguing for some arbitrary "feels right" distinction, some bright line that exists only in your mind between "still a shuttle" and "not a shuttle any more". And that's not a valid argument at all.

Re:The real reason... (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490637)

Or, on the contrary, mightn't the Theseus's Ship paradox suggest that the "feels right" distinction is the only distinction that matters for these sorts of questions?

Re:The real reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39491153)

The Ship of Theseus is a simple paradox that only exists because of the way you see things. Let's say I have two wooden ships. I remove the equivalent plank from both and swap it. I keep doing this until all the planks are swapped. Which ship is which?

The first ship is COLLECTIVELY the same as it ever was, even though the individual components are NOT the same. The same is true of any human (you are human, right?), since our cells are replaced continuously. We are COLLECTIVELY the same entity, even though component-wise we are not.

The first ship is now the second ship at the component level.

Thus, it has TWO identities, not one. The paradox exists because we tend to assume that only one identity exists.

Thus, no "bright line" need exist (it is an illusion caused by superimposing the two identities, but it is ONLY an illusion) and therefore your counter-claim really doesn't mean a whole lot. Try again.

Re:The real reason... (1)

priceslasher (2102064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489843)

I think reducing the weight is the main thing here. As an exhibit, one possibility, the new electronics will just need to project Hubble images onto windows - like you're flying around.. and play some space music. And some flashing lights, of course.

Re:The real reason... (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490141)

One of the chemicals used in the Space Shuttle was Hyrdazine [wikipedia.org] , a chemical that is very dangerous and indeed toxic. It is also a chemical that I think is very wise to have removed before the shuttle is moved to a museum, hoping that the hose containing a small bit of the stuff might not come lose just as you have a touring group of a couple dozen 1st graders walking under the hose containing a few dozen pounds of the stuff.

The dangerous chemicals are there for a reason when it was in use, and while it was on a launch pad it had technicians that knew what to touch and what not to touch. That won't be the case in a museum which is a very different environment than sitting outdoors literally miles away from any other people than trained technicians who were explicitly looking for those kind of hoses to leak on a daily basis.

In other words, the hazardous substances argument is completely valid. Or perhaps you drink a glass of Hydrazine every night for supper.

Re:The real reason... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489649)

for mummification and/or embalming, is to make sure the person is actually, really, dead. This isn't mothballing. It's making sure Discovery doesn't fly again.

--
BMO

Because of what, NASA is worried that there will be an imminent global disaster whose aversion can only be achieved by dusting off retired old spaceships and sending them off on a last-ditch mission to save humanity, and wants to be sure their precious shuttles aren't sacrificed in such a way? I think you're right, NASA clearly isn't watching the right sci-fi movies.

LOL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488213)

Why bother just showing the shell? Future generations will feel ripped off and throw it on the trash.

"That's because of terrorism at that time... made people all retarded.. and they removed the parts because they were afraid of space terrorism, too.", is what the Teacher will tell his/her class.

Re:LOL (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488247)

It's likely to stabilize it and make it easier to preserve.Trying to preserve it in parts is a lot easier than trying to preserve it as a whole (especially with that complex a system with that many different kinds of materials).

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488427)

> It's likely to stabilize it and make it easier to preserve.

Yea.. That (lol)... and it will not end up crashing into the Pentagon, right? :D

LOL.. Americans... even their history is controlled by Terrorism now.. xD

Re:LOL (3, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488537)

Reading the article it sounds more like it was considered easier/cheaper/less risky to just discard all the components that had touched any toxic/caustic liquids rather than clean and preserve them.

At this location, the retired former Shuttle Program manager Wayne Hale encountered the extracted tanks that made up the innards of the systems, cut up and lying in the dirt.

There were a few exceptions like the engines which were scavenged for use with STS (like that will ever actually happen), and other deconstruction to learn about the effects of 15 years of space flight (that is worthwhile).

Re:LOL (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489389)

"That's because of terrorism at that time... made people all retarded.. and they removed the parts because they were afraid of space terrorism, too.", is what the Teacher will tell his/her class.

If I can't be bothered to care about stupid people now, I sure won't care about them in future generations.

new paying visitors (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488291)

Smithsonian doesn't charge. (But maybe they should start, to help fund their expenses.) Like other government-owned institutions charge.

Re:new paying visitors (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488445)

Free to walk in, but $15 to park (Udvar Hazy center, where they will display the Discovery).

Re:new paying visitors (1)

Robotbeat (461248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489279)

Free to walk in...

...$1000 to walk out. ;)

Any headed for San Francisco? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488295)

I guess now we know how one of the shuttles survived intact for Fallout 2's Hubologists to restore.

Just to be accurate: (3, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488303)

"this cost was borne (sic) U.S. government"

should read:

"this cost was borne (sic) U.S. taxpayers"

A common mistake. Even when our government doesn't pay for it, they borrow on our good names. The buck won't stop in the Oval Office.

Re:Just to be accurate: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488381)

1) It's [sic], in brackets and italics

2) You're missing "by the".

3) There's no reason to [sic], since "borne" is correct. Are you dense?

Re:Just to be accurate: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39492189)

It's not flamebait. Anyone whose sig is "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make" should have either the brainpower to know how to spell or to look up words.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488391)

Well, look at it this way. It's probably a lot cheaper to preserve it that to launch it into space twice a year at a cost of $600 million a pop.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488603)

So, in fact, we're saving $1.172 billion.

Re:Just to be accurate: (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489007)

That's D.C. math right there! File that along with calling increasing funding by a smaller amount than you increased it last year as a "cut".

Re:Just to be accurate: (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488565)

Sorry, but your (sic) is misplaced - as "borne [wiktionary.org] " is a perfectly legitimate word and was properly used by the author.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

GuruBuckaroo (833982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488673)

This isn't "just to be accurate". It's to be pedantic and trollish.

And look, I replied. Well played.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489513)

Says you. I'm pointing out our prevailing belief that the money our government spends is somehow theirs. And that it's wrong.

Re:Just to be accurate: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488763)

U.S. Taxpayers?
you mean worldwide payers of US dept, because americans haven't paid enough taxes to cover the government dept in ages...

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489517)

you mean worldwide payers of US dept

That's already been said, US taxpayers. The fact that the US borrows money doesn't change who pays the bills.

Re:Just to be accurate: (2)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488893)

"this cost was borne (sic) U.S. government" should read: "this cost was borne (sic) U.S. taxpayers' children"

FTFY... it was simply added to the national debt load you guys will pass on to your children.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490295)

Well, it's the currently living generations that will pay for this economic disaster that the past generations (and the current) have perpetrated upon the society with all this socialist/fascist/totalitarian nonsense.

Is it going to be the children? The children need to run away and not pay for all these immoral 'obligations' that the old generations have placed upon them.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#39492661)

way to go blaming everyone but yourself.

"it's not MY fault! i don't vote or pay taxes!"

i'd love to see a fascist-socialist. really would love to see that. would that be left or right wing? what do you mean there can't be anything else?

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494011)

Why would I blame myself and what kind of argument is that?

I said: the children shouldn't be paying for these immoral obligations placed upon them by the former generations, and this is correct. Their ancestors have moved to USA in a search for freedom and better life, clearly the children can do the same thing - move in a search of freedom and better life for themselves.

As to fascist-socialist: any fascist is a socialist. Left/Right is meaningless in this sense, fascism is a socialist movement, the difference is very minor. Fascists are simply smarter than socialists, in that Fascist do not seek to control the production process, they just want to promote their single party system and impose huge taxes on companies and people to achieve their goal of 'unity' and totalitarianism, it's really similar to any religious ideology that wants to impose its ideas of 'purity' upon others, but it is not trying to actually run businesses, they leave that to individuals and provide protection from competition but tax the profits to the maximum possible.

Socialists are dumber, they want more control over the means of production, and they have their own religion of creating an 'equal society', also a quasi-religious and an impossible goal, which can never be achieved, because most people don't want to be equal to others, people actually want to excel in something and live better than the other guy. Forcing communal ownership of businesses of-course means that the socialists will get worse results from their labour, it's akin to running businesses by committee, not by real owner in search of profits. Socialists are all about huge regulations and taxes of businesses and labour, all that nonsense, for the supposed equality, but in reality it's of-course just another way to create a dependent class and rule it.

The 'right/left' ideology has no meaning, in fact those are terms so loaded, anybody using them doesn't know what the hell he is talking about and clearly doesn't want to talk about the actual issues behind the thinly veiled lack of understanding.

Re:Just to be accurate: (2)

Cazekiel (1417893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489003)

I'd rather have a few cents chopped from my paycheck for this than everything it's been used for so far. Education > War, in my book.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489315)

Oh, I dont know... I'd say the last few wars have been an education of sorts...

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489617)

"this cost was borne [by the] U.S. government"
should read:
"this cost was borne [by the] U.S. taxpayers"

Same thing. It's not like anybody doesn't know that the government taxes them to pay for running things, research, etc.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490325)

Same thing. It's not like anybody doesn't know that the government taxes them to pay for running things into the ground, research, etc.

- FTFY.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39512871)

Whether a particular government (local, state, or country) runs things wel or into the ground depends on who's running it. The difference between a Governor running his state into the ground (Ryan, Blago) and the CEO of a corporation running her (I'm thinking Carly Fiona as a good example) company into the ground is that the Governor will get booted out of office (and in Illinois, usually imprisoned) while the CEO leaves with a golden parachute.

Here in Springfield, our electric company is run by city government. Todd Renfrow (AKA "Mr. Burns") did an excellent job. We had the best uptime and the lowest rates in Illinois. Renfrow retired, we got a new mayor, the mayor appointed someone else to run it, now we're looking at rate increases.

I see Mayor Houston losing his job next election. And he won't get a golden parachute.

In either case, whethere it's a CEO or a politician that runs things into the ground, the workers get blamed and they're the ones who suffer, along with the citizens/stockholders/customers.

Re:Just to be accurate: (1)

brentrad (1013501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489913)

As someone who paid several thousand dollars in taxes for 2011, I fully approve of my taxes going to preserve history such as this, for everyone to enjoy (no matter if they are poor enough to pay for admission or not) at the Smithsonian. My wife and I visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Natural History Museum a few years ago, and it's one of the coolest places I've ever visited.

Now these stupid wars we've been in for the last decade - THOSE I have a huge problem with my taxes going towards. But I digress...

ma8e (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488375)

it was fun. If I'm iirecoverable when done playing

Frantic to buy? (2)

Lando (9348) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488449)

The price tag did not stop the frantic push to get one by an eager group of contenders

Really? How come NASA had to drop its price to actually sell the shuttles if everyone was so eager to buy one?

http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/01/17/1714204/lacking-buyers-nasa-cuts-prices-on-shuttles-and-old-engines [slashdot.org]

Re:Frantic to buy? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488659)

It's an economic principle called the law of demand. See the HP TouchPad. Starting at $500, no one wanted one but at a firesale price of $99, they sold out.

Re:Frantic to buy? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488675)

They were eager to buy them at $28M, not at $40M. What is so unusual about that?

Laser Spine Surgery (0)

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It's not really mummification without canopic jars (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488697)

Unless the fuel tanks get used for that purpose.

Re:It's not really mummification without canopic j (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489225)

Place a scarab talisman in place of the heart too.

I has a sad. (3, Interesting)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488771)

It's a very sad thought to me, that a once-great and powerful machine of such complexity is being reduced to little more than a static kiddie ride in a museum, even if it is the Smithsonian. I suppose part of this sadness comes from the fact that we don't have anything home-grown replacing it currently, and with the way things are going, we might not for many decades to come. As many of us did, I anticipated having reusable SSTO craft before now, driving the cost of the ride into orbit way down from what the shuttle cost. Instead we have essentially nothing.

Re:I has a sad. (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488991)

Instead we have essentially nothing.

Hey, we've got the Russians. Right?

Re:I has a sad. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488997)

I suppose part of this sadness comes from the fact that we don't have anything home-grown replacing it currently

Dragon capsule on a Falcon 9. With a little work, they could have an Orion capsule on a Delta IV Heavy too.

And given the weak launch market at present, capsule designs are a better choice than winged vehicles.

Re:I has a sad. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489125)

When one door closes, another one opens. Necessity is the mother of invention... You see where I'm going with this? This isn't an end of space flight and exploration. What we have here is a transitional period that quite frankly is long overdue.

Re:I has a sad. (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489827)

It seems that after the end of the cold war, the US ran out of real enemies and won't bother touching China. So they invented cheaper enemies - iraq, iran, the goat-herders in afghanistan, the usual. Easier to deal, cheaper, and more money to the warlords. I mean, come on, the money they were spending during cold war with research and development, now they spend in guns. Simpler, faster, easier to hide.

Re:I has a sad. (3, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489985)

After the Cuban missile crisis, I don't want another cold war. There was so many bad ways that could have ended, but didn't. I understand the glory in innovation that came from the Cold War. But please, don't undermine the brinkmanship that came with it too. It's simply not worth it IMHO.

Re:I has a sad. (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493795)

Don't get me wrong. I would not want another. I just said that the nature of the wars created by those who have interest on them has changed. One with less risks, with invented enemies. I wonder how long it will take for them to run out of imaginary enemies before they turn into the "aliens".

Re:I has a sad. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496909)

Radical Islam isn't a made up enemy. It does exist. It's an insidious and dark force upon humanity. This is not a "western" war where one side wears one uniform and the other wears another. Both identifiable in the battlefield. Terrorism is a tactic by the enemy. To them, it's justifiable (and it's honestly truly effective). To western morals, it's not. That's the difference. I suppose you could say the American revolutionaries were terrorist too in the way they employed non-conventional tactics for that time period. Unfortunately we actually have two enemy forces to deal with. Them, and us. We are also our own worst enemy in that there are those whom will take advantage of our vulnerabilities for other ulterior Big Government controlling motives.

space shuttle too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490171)

Congress demanded high reliability from the Space Shuttle, which required lots of maintenance and inspection. So much, that it was much cheaper to just build a new moderate spec rocket, just like the Russians did.

Money issues aside (1)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489127)

It is really cool to see this thing wide open, as well as all the work that goes in to making a Shuttle "Museum Ready". Most people assume (I assume, so a double whammy) that it's pretty much a fit and stuff type of operation.

I will take the shuttle to the Smithsonian! (1)

Cazekiel (1417893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489167)

The pictures in the article showing the NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with the shuttle on its back made my inner LotR-geek scream, "I can't carry your engines... but I can carry you!"

Cool to see, sad to see like this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489519)

This will be cool to see in real life, but sad that such a capable machine was scrapped when it could have continued missions for sometime yet.

Re:Cool to see, sad to see like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39489613)

Agree... will look forward to seeing this in person someday.

Seen one of the older ones already... (2)

SlideRuleGuy (987445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39489899)

...and if it's been stripped like the one I saw, don't bother going. It isn't worth walking up the ramp to see it. Just an empty shell. They didn't even leave more than a few wires dangling around. And you couldn't walk into any of the crew areas. Nothing.

Re:Seen one of the older ones already... (3, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39490485)

The only older one available for viewing is the Enterprise*, which was never a functional shuttle. It never had any of the engine components, or thermal tiles. Much of the electronics and other interior finishing were never installed, and the few useful pieces of equipment that were installed were later removed as spare parts for the actual shuttle fleet. It truly was an empty shell.

These should be quite a bit better than that, even after removing much of the guts.

*Or it could have been one of the mockups, like Explorer.

SOP for NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39490161)

Instead of making a proper museum piece, they made an amusement park exhibit.

In return, they got some parts that may or may not get used.

Reminds me of the money they saved by recycling the only high-def first moon walk tapes.

A sad waste that will be recorded as an example of a smart way to save money.

Great new ad campaign (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#39491535)

"See the Shuttle that didn't actually kill anyone!"

Space Shuttle Computers (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39493095)

GPC - General-Purpose Computers [nasa.gov] - "Five identical general-purpose computers aboard the orbiter control space shuttle vehicle systems. Each GPC is composed of two separate units, a central processor unit and an input/output processor. All five GPCs are IBM AP-101 computers. Each CPU and IOP contains a memory area for storing software and data. These memory areas are collectively referred to as the GPC's main memory."

GPC-4 issue awakens crew [nasaspaceflight.com] - July 2011

General-Purpose Computers [nasa.gov] - NASA
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