Considering that I am writing this on the 40th anniversary the first tail cone off flight of the Shuttle orbiter ENTERPRISE it's only fitting that the subject should be that of the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) that took Orbiter 101 aloft on October 12th, 1977... NASA 905.
Recently I visited Houston and the Johnson Space Center. While there I took in the visitor center (which has the Best ASTP, LRL and Skylab displays that you'll find anywhere BTW) to see the new SCA display.
I texted a good friend of mine and told him I was going to see NASA 905 and he replied that he has been wondering what the visitor's point of view first impression was like. I decided to send him a photo tour... and now you can see it too.
A Boeing 747-123 was purchased from American Airlines and converted to the SCA which was then monikered as NASA 905. The aircraft, originally registered as N9668, had been delivered to AA on October 29th, 1970. After nearly 3,000 cycles it was retired from service. NASA aquired the 747 on July 18th, 1974.
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Coming out of the building the first thing that catches your eye is the enormous starboard engine and the shuttle mock-up sitting high above you.
Strolling down the walkway you head for the nose of 905.
Before climbing the gantry to go inside the bird, if you're a career aviator like me, you are compelled to do a little walk-around... err... walk under.
Everything looks to be in good shape, but there is one thing that I found strangely missing... there's no ramp noise! No deafening hums and whirs and no roar of other aircraft doing taxi, push or take off. That's when it strikes you that this is no ramp- it's a museum.
You can either climb the stairs of the gantry or take the elevator (to the left out of frame).
From the stairs every step gives you a more exciting view.
Close-up view of the JT9D-7J intake... no FOD seen.
The first exhibit that really caught my eye was this one...
This is the radio controlled 747 that was used by John Kiker and his fellow R/C airplane nuts at DFRC to prove to NASA management that carrying the orbiter on the back of a 747 was feasible. Look closely at the inboard engine and you'll see that it has a propeller and is in fact a two stroke model aircraft engine! The model has one on each side. To see it fly go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5LWFV5NJjY and watch at the 3:30 mark.
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You wanna stay up there.
Okay. I can see that.
Here's the ALT crew... just to make me happy.
Over all- this is a super display and it is clear that a great deal of care was taken to make sure that things are correct. Every space buff should make the trip to visit 905 as well as Skylab, ASTP and the LRL displays at JSC. I give it an A+ and it was well worth the trip.
And yes folks... what you are seeing is after the hurricane. The place looks super!
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