Houston says goodbye to its space shuttle mockup

A life-size training fuselage was disassembled at Johnson Space Center and loaded onto a flatbed, headed for its new home in Seattle
April 18, 2012 9:20:23 AM PDT
It's no secret -- a lot of Houstonians are harboring a few hard feelings ever since Space City was denied one of the retired shuttles. Adding insult to injury, the one space shuttle mockup we do have is now on its way out of town.

If your were in denial about the ending of NASA's space shuttle program, well, Tuesday was a reality check. A life-size training fuselage was disassembled and loaded onto a flatbed, headed for its new home. And at least one former astronaut stood there just reminiscing.

For the last 30 years, the mockup fuselage trainer has prepared astronauts for space shuttle launches and missions.

Former astronaut Clayton Anderson has trained inside for two missions.

"The ability to get in and get a sense of the size and equipment and be able to touch and move the switches. It's all very important in your initial training as an astronaut," Anderson said.

Now, underscoring the end of NASA's shuttle program, crews are disassembling the fuselage, for the mockups move to The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

"It's very bittersweet. We've been working with this fuel fuselage trainer, it's been in the building for 30 years. It's trained every crew for the space shuttle," said Alison McIntyre, Deputy Chief of the space vehicle mock.

The mockup was built on site at the Johnson Space Center more than three decades ago. While the interior looks like aluminum, everything is actually built out of wood. So support structures must be built around it to handle its transport to Washington State.

Sad to see, but NASA is wasting no time in moving forward.

"We are looking forward to clearing this space to make room for some of our commercial space companies and some other mockups that will be coming in the building for future programs," McIntyre said.

And for some, there are just a few moments left to stand and reminisce about the days of NASA's space shuttle program.

"The shuttle program is over. We can look back, and we can look at our legacy and we can be sad for awhile, but what we like to do here at NASA is look forward, look to the future," Anderson said.

The mockup is leaving for Ellington Airport at midnight and is scheduled arrive sometime around 3am. It will stay there before leaving for the Museum of Flight in Seattle in a couple of months.


Load Comments