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  #1  
Old 01-25-2017, 10:42 PM
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Default Enterprise at Vandenberg

Comrades:

I thought you guys might like to see this: Enterprise doing facilities checks at Vandenberg. I don't know much about this other than the shuttles were slated to fly polar orbits out of Vandenberg but the West Coast program was cancelled when Challenger was lost.

Still, that's a cool-looking pad.
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Old 01-25-2017, 10:53 PM
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Some of you shuttle historians...was this the only time Enterprise was mated to ET and SRB's? I thought she was only used for glide tests and Pathfinder was the full stack vibration test model, but there she is all mated up at Vandenberg.
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Old 01-25-2017, 11:42 PM
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No, that was the third time Enterrpise was stacked. Well, technically at least the 5th time it was stacked (stacked at least 3 times at MSFC in 1978). So let's say Vandenberg was the third facility it was stacked at

Pathfinder was a full-sized mock-up built at MSFC that was originally meant to literally "find the path" for how to handle Enterprise later. So, Pathfinder was hauled down the same roads, picked up by cranes, raised up, and lowered into the Vibration Test Building in order to confirm that it would fit, and give the crews experience handling an orbiter without risking damaging the REAL thing when Enterprise arrived later. And Pathfinder was CRUDE, since it only needed to have the same rough dimensional shape for fitting in place, and mass for balance. It did not need it to look realistic. No cockpit, no rounded nose, no OMS pods, no airfolis - flat slab wings and flat vertical tail. Years later it was overhauled to look "pretty".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Pathfinder



In 1978, Enterprise was flown into Marshal Space Flight Center. I was THERE when it was flown on on top of the 747, they did a low altitude flyby down the runway, 1000 feet or less, really impressive, before circling around downtown Huntsville and landing at the Redstone Arsenal Airstrip.

It was stacked in the Vibration Test Building that was built for testing the Saturn-V and modify t hold the shuttle stack (Russia never had such testing for the N-1, which is a big reason why the N-1 failed). They did three series of vibration tests, one fully loaded (water ballast in the ET), one with a partial load (SRBís close to empty, IIRC, and ET water ballast at about the level it would be close to SRB sep), then without the SRBís, shortly after SRB sep. So they had to stack and de-stack it three times.

Quote:
In October 1978, space shuttle Enterprise underwent a Mated Vertical Ground Vibration Test at NASA Marshall Space Flight Centerís Dynamic Test Stand. The test marked the first time all shuttle elements -- an orbiter, external tank and two solid rocket boosters -- were vertically mated. The test verified that the shuttle performed as expected in its launch configuration.






Later, it was taken to KSC, and used for various test fit checks, interfacing, and stacking inside the VAB. It was rolled out to pad 39A on May 1, 1979.



As for Vandenberg and the shuttle, you could Google a lot more. The wiki below is about SLC-6, originally intended for Titan-III Gemini MOL launches.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vande...aunch_Complex_6

When MOL was cancelled later it was heavily modified for shuttle launches. There were many issues, including exhaust trenches built for Titan boosters, thet was not really as big as desired for shuttle SRB's, much concern about that. Even more concerns were about the new composite SRB cases. The SpySats to be flown out of there, with Polar Orbits, required the shuttle to be a bit lighter in order to carry the heaviest spysats. So the Steel cased SRB's were to be composite SRB's instead. Much lighter, that improved the payload launch mass. After the Challenger accident, a lot of things were changed, and the USAF and NRO backed out of the shuttle program as quickly as they could get contracts going to fly those sats on Titan-III's again within a few years.
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Last edited by georgegassaway : 01-26-2017 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 01-26-2017, 08:24 AM
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Thanks, George. It's been decades since I've been to the space center in Huntsville. I've yet to see the full stack vertical Saturn V mockup or the real Saturn's new home. I recon I've completely forgotten the Pathfinder history and just took some of Enterprise's accomplishments and handed them to the wrong shuttle.
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Old 01-26-2017, 01:46 PM
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FWIW, Enterprise came to Huntsville in late December 77 or early January 78 but I think it was just for a week or two. I've got some photos someplace. The one thing I am positive about is it was colder than a well diggers backside and a stiff breeze!

Last I heard Enterprise was in a museum in New York City.

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Old 01-26-2017, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy
FWIW, Enterprise came to Huntsville in late December 77 or early January 78 but I think it was just for a week or two. I've got some photos someplace. The one thing I am positive about is it was colder than a well diggers backside and a stiff breeze!

Last I heard Enterprise was in a museum in New York City.


It flew into Huntsville (Redstone airstrip) in March 1978. As I said, I was actually there. It was at MSFC for over a year, as the vibration testing took months, especially since it had to be stacked and de-stacked three times.

There were three weekend "Open Houses" where Enterprise, an ET, and some SRB components were on display. First open house was late March, I was at that too. Didn't get to the 2nd one, I think maybe I made the third one.

Enterprise was later flown to KSC , in April 1979, where it was stacked there and rolled out to 39A as mentioned earlier.

More info:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Enterprise

My old photos from then are long gone. But I do have this scan from my old club newsletter "Impact", a collage by Tony Williams. Most photos are from when it was flown into Redstone, and a couple of pics from the first Open House with Enterprise on its transporter. The photo of Enteprise and 747 in the air, that was during the totally unexpected fly-by over the runway at 1000 feet or less, and we were probably less than 1500 feet from the runway. At first, we saw it far off, banking, and lining up to land. Then came to realize it was not on a descent slope, and the gear was NOT down! Then the realization it was doing a flyby! Impressive! After it passed us, it banked left to do a close pass near the MSFC HQ Building, then circled Huntsville before coming back to land.

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Old 01-26-2017, 04:46 PM
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I must have made the first open house, because as you know it isn't usually that cold here in March. I'm going to have to start looking for those photos, I got a couple of good ones someplace.

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Old 01-26-2017, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy
I must have made the first open house, because as you know it isn't usually that cold here in March. I'm going to have to start looking for those photos, I got a couple of good ones someplace.

Randy


Maybe you made it to the last one? The first one was a pretty mild day, IIRC. We had a regional rocket contest that weekend, purposely finished it up by 11 AM Sunday morning, and most everyone drove to see the open house at MSFC. One of those who made it was Mark Bundick, I rode with him as did some others. His car was overheating the last mile or so when traffic slowed to a crawl, so he ran the heater full blast to help keep the engine cool, we were burning up inside his car since it was not really cold outside. OK, I looked up weather history from two possible Sundays, the 19th was 65 degrees, the other (March 26th) was 62 degrees.

I am not questioning that you also attended, it may have been another occasion.Or perhaps I was so pumped at seeing it that I don't recall it seeming cold.

Maybe they even did a 4th open house late in 1978 or even winter 1979. Part of the frustration with googling things that happened before......Google...... or at least the www age, is that so LITTLE info about things that happened in the past is often not to be found since there's no digital records of a lot of it. So doing a Google Search for:

"shuttle enterprise open house msfc dates"

Does not find anything about the Open Houses held at MSFC.

That stab did cause the discovery of a pretty nice article on Enterprise, with a lot of info about it's time at MSFC. And some good pics I'd seen before which are worth posting.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/201...started-it-all/




Enterprise transported past MSFC HQ:

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Last edited by georgegassaway : 01-26-2017 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 01-26-2017, 08:55 PM
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It could easily have been the last one. I'm just hoping if I find the photos they have the print date so I'll know I didn't dream it.

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Old 01-27-2017, 11:14 AM
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Default Hmmm...

A couple very interesting things about that Vandy pic of the Enterprise ---

First --- I like the fact that they left the Payload Bay Door supports/lift bars in place. Makes you wonder how those would have been removed in "operational" flights.

Second --- the top segment of the starboard SRB has quite a lot of markings/etc. --- I don't believe I've seen that much "clutter" on a shuttle SRB in other pictures. Anyone know anything about it?

It's also interesting to me, that by the time they were doing these Vandy fit checks and such, that the ET's had changed over to their "unpainted" variant. I'm so used to seeing Enterprise with an "all white stack" in her pictures that seeing her with a brown ET jarred me.
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