Author Topic: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos 1980 to 1985 Space Shuttle Modifications  (Read 6802 times)

Offline 39B

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MacLaren here, after a long absence.

I'm the guy who originally posted Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle way back in 2011 (Wow, it's really been a long time, hasn't it?), the last reply to which, as of this writing, was in July of 2017 (Hi Manfred!), and a TREMENDOUS amount of stuff has happened since then, the sense of which is the results of a decision to redo the whole thing in much greater detail, so I started in on that, hosting what I was creating on my own web page to allow me to speak my native language (construction work, lotta curse words, lotta attitude, every last bit of which was as true to the actual HISTORY of things as I could possibly make it, in the interests of absolute maximum fidelity, to what really went down out there, and of course all of which makes it completely unsuitable for a more "family friendly" place like nasaspaceflight.com.

Fine.

Get to the point, MacLaren.

Well...

After knocking down 63 pages of it, I was struck by a thunderbolt from out of a clear blue sky in the form of multiple treasure troves (which continue to occasionally fall out of the sky directly into my disbelieving hands) of wholly-unexpected technical documentation which I never dared imagine might ever show up, covering the exact work which I had performed on Pad B at the time as a structural steel guy...

And I found myself having to rewrite the whole thing again, a second time, from scratch, to include the Treasure Trove(s), which allowed me to check and verify my old-man's memories with exquisite accuracy (finding no end of mistakes and omissions along the way, which it pleased me greatly to be able to correct, using the actual contract documents)...

And the second rewrite involved a complete rescanning at higher resolution and re-color-correcting of the original photographs, plus a total reorganization of things into what could now be accurately placed in correct chronological order, and as it just so happens, doing it that way breaks it cleanly into two very large pieces, Part 1 which covers my time working for Sheffield Steel, and Part 2 which covers my time working for Ivey Steel...

And I wanted to finish the thing before drawing everybody's attention to it, but it's turning out to be a much greater task than I had at first imagined, and I finally finished Part 1 a month or two ago, and Part 2, which I originally thought would go much faster, has turned out to be vastly greater than I thought it would be, and is proceeding at a vastly slower pace, and Part 1 alone took two full years to complete...

So I'm stopping here today, and tossing this message to you nice people, advising that there is an INSANELY-DETAILED thing out there, covering the construction of the Rotating Service Structure, and the Fixed Service Structure, and a lot of other stuff, on Pad 39-B, and it's backed up with a huge amount of linked citations to a huge number of different reference and support documents (from original sources), and as far as I've been able to discover as I continue to research my material, nothing anywhere else in the world even comes close, so it's looking like what I've created here is now more or less "The Source" for this information, and that's a humbling thing to consider, but it's really cool to be able to share this stuff, 'cause the read count on my original post is over 100,000 so clearly there's some proper interest out there, and for those people who are interested, what you're about to encounter is likely going to knock you out, because the level of detail is beyond believing, and so far as I can tell, every last detail is historically and technically accurate, complete with all the citations you could ever ask for, and the word count is now over 200,000 and climbing...

So.

Dig in.

Drink deeply.

Linger over small things.

Leave it behind and then return to it later with a refreshed mind and renewed interest and curiousity.

Again and again.

And again.

And you will be rewarded.

With a thing so impossibly information-filled that it can only be described as fractal-like, expanding without sensible end as you delve deeper and deeper into it.

And I do hope you enjoy it.

And I do hope you can make good and proper use of it.

And if you have questions about it, ask them here, and I'll do the best I can for answers.

And here's the Table of Contents.

And here's the first page of Part 1.

And here's the final page of Part 1.

And here's the longest page (so far).

And it's filled to overflowing with wonder, and anger, and joy, and deeply-frightening situations, and the best people you could ever in your life hope to meet, and the worst people you could ever in your life wish that you had never met, and science, and money, and poetry, and politics, and jaw-dropping beauty, and rock-hard technical facts and data, and astonishment, and mistakes, and triumphs, and lucky breaks, and on and on and on it goes without end, and if you find yourself liking it, you will find yourself at a never-ending banquet of it.

And there's so much more....

So very VERY much more...

And I'm not done writing.
« Last Edit: 01/19/2023 01:16 pm by 39B »

Offline 39B

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Gonna toss a few representative images from the redone Pad B Stories, to give you an idea of what's in there. Some of these are fairly large file sizes, so I can only hope they work for you.

This one is supposed to render full-size at 6,450 by 10,935 pixels, and requires bringing it up, full-resolution, in order to see the blizzard of identifying labels that are on everything, which, if you read the stories, you will come to understand every one of, and after I uploaded it, and clicked on the image (Firefox and Chrome-based browsers both worked) it opened up in a new tab at full size, so I'm going to presume this works, and I'm gonna toss a few more in here, just so you can see what we're doing here with this stuff.

Here's the RSS and FSS as seen from the Pad Deck, directly across the Flame Trench from them.

« Last Edit: 01/29/2023 06:19 pm by 39B »

Offline 39B

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And here's the RSS and the FSS (with labels) viewed from out on the very end of the Hammerhead Crane, looking back down and across at them.

« Last Edit: 01/26/2023 04:04 pm by 39B »

Offline 39B

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Here's a view looking down from the Orbiter Left Side Vehicle Access Platform at elevation 191'-0" to the Pad Deck below you at elevation 53'-0" with work proceeding in the Inflatable Seal for the Orbiter Right Side Seal Panel and the el. 135'-7" floor steel cutouts for the Orbiter's OMS Pods below that, with a few people standing on the Pad Deck below, to kind of give you a sense of scale to things. It's a pretty big place.


« Last Edit: 01/26/2023 04:06 pm by 39B »

Offline 39B

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And here's another one looking down, this time from the RSS Roof at el. 211'-0" down to the RSS Main Floor Level at el. 135'-7" which shows you how confusing the labyrinth of steel that it was constructed from can become (and also somebody bent over their work, more or less directly below you).





And then here's that same image after I worked it to point out the RSS Main Framing structural members (the stuff that holds the whole tower up), which you would never have a prayer of figuring out on your own, and I'm including this to let you see how I've worked a lot of the original photographs to allow you to follow along with the story as I'm telling you what's going on with stuff, so as you at least stand a fighting chance of understanding it.

« Last Edit: 01/26/2023 04:09 pm by 39B »

Offline 39B

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And of course it's a history, so you get to see how things were done, step by step, as the construction proceeded, and this image shows you the more or less completed skeleton of the RSS early on, while it was still supported on the falsework that Whilhoit Steel Erectors built up on top of the Pad to hold it up in the air, before it became self-supporting and could be cut loose, and the falsework get removed.

« Last Edit: 01/26/2023 04:09 pm by 39B »

Online roma847

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Welcome James,

what a surprise to see you here again!

Congratulations on this decision, I'm happy and stay tuned! 

***************
Regards from Germany

Manfred

Under construction:
1:144 Launch Pad 39A with Challenger STS-6

Offline 39B

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Welcome James,

what a surprise to see you here again!

Congratulations on this decision, I'm happy and stay tuned!


Aloha my good friend Manfred!

I knew I could count on you to be the first!

Still blazing away at it with Part 2, Page 56, and the PCR Door Hoists have become difficult, just like everything else becomes difficult, and the farther I dig into them, the farther I see that I will have to yet go, to get to the bottom of things (presuming that's even possible in the long run), and it's a pleasure to take a break from it, and get a kind word from you.

One of these days perhaps you'll step far enough back from your own RSS and grab a frame or two of it to show me, so as I might be able to see it, and oh by the way, now that we find ourselves in possession of a Hammerhead Crane Extensible Pipe Boom Spider Basket Trolley Support, are you, as an expression of your own marvelous brand of madness, going to make the damn thing extensible, too? With an extensible trolley for the monorail that hangs from the monorail? And a bizarre "actuator" run hither and thither by threads (or, knowing you, perhaps individual strands of spider web) wrapped around pulleys the size of pinheads?

We are, all of us, quite mad, and I would not have it any other way.

Online roma847

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Hi James,

as I've mailed you already, this Extensible Pipe Boom System did exist on the Hammerhead Crane of Pad A during STS-6 mission, which is why I'll also try to scratch build this Pipe Boom because it belongs to the crane of my FSS Tower.


Source: NASA (STS-6)



Do you also have technical drawings of this Pipe Boom in your treasure chest?
Thanks for sharing these extraordinary first hand stories, that inspire me again and again!

« Last Edit: 01/07/2023 10:52 pm by roma847 »
***************
Regards from Germany

Manfred

Under construction:
1:144 Launch Pad 39A with Challenger STS-6

Offline 39B

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Hi James,

as I've mailed you already, this Extensible Pipe Boom System did exist on the Hammerhead Crane of Pad A during STS-6 mission

It existed from Day One, actually. Feast your eyes on this. Enterprise, sitting on the MLP during a deluge test during the summer of 1979! Complete with an Extensible Pipe Boom Nightmare tucked ever-so-innocently away, beneath the Hammerhead Crane Boom.

which is why I'll also try to scratch build this Pipe Boom because it belongs to the crane of my FSS Tower.

Excellent!

Do you also have technical drawings of this Pipe Boom in your treasure chest?

Oh ye of little faith! And patience. Get thee hie to Page 55, which is now done, and there you shall behold riches untold of a thing so marvelous, a thing so STUPID, as to cause the gods themselves to blush! Click thee, upon the links thou shalt find amongst the text thereunto, and learn its ways. Much there is to consider. Much there is to learn about the wonders of the Extensible Pipe Boom Nightmare!

And also, in exchange for such a wondrous gift as I have just bestowed upon you, could you possibly, by some means, find a way to quit coloring snippets of your text blue? On my end of things, blue text is the sign of a hyperlink that needs clicking to see the thing it links to, and I'm constantly clicking your blue text only to find it does nothing and hyperlinks nowhere, and I am saddened each and every time I fall for it again. Red maybe? Or, better still, no color at all maybe? As an extra special favor to an extra special friend? But even if you cannot bring yourself to do so it will be ok and I'll still be your extra special friend.

Offline 39B

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And the suggestion has been made for me to provide only the redone large-format images, for people who might want to simply look at the lead photographs on each page, without having to endure wading through the tremendous amount of information on the corresponding pages of the Pad B Stories, and I think that's a good idea, so I'm going to simply post them here, in the page order they appear, and toss in a link to the page they're taken from for those who want the full story with each one, with perhaps a few descriptive words to help with understanding what's being shown.

Page 1 is the introduction to the Stories, sets up the basic premises, and prepares you for what is coming. It contains two lead photographs, and those are the first two images I've already placed in my initial posting here, so I'll not waste bandwidth with reposting them here as images, and will instead provide links.

The first image shows us the Rotating Service Structure and the Fixed Service Structure on top of the Pad Deck at Launch Complex 39-B, viewed from directly across the Flame Trench at a time when the initial phase of the construction effort of creating the towers was nearly complete, but well before the Pad became Operational. Much is already in place, but there is much more which wound up being added to the two main towers. This image is densely-labeled, identifying much which is shown, but without any explanations for what those labels actually mean. Some of it is pretty straightforward, but a lot of it is more or less opaque, and requires further reading, which is not provided on Page 1, to gain detailed understanding of it.

The second image looks back and down toward the Rotating Service Structure and the Fixed Service Structure at Launch Complex 39-B, as seen from above, at the tip end of the Hammerhead Crane, which is visible in the first image, extending outward toward the photographer, 250 feet above the Pad Deck. It too is densely-labeled, and in similar fashion as the first image, those labels are not further explained on the page, and a full description of things is spread throughout the pages which follow, instead.

Offline Jodie Peeler

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Wow. Just...wow. The pictures are priceless, the stories keep making me want to read more and more, and it's all a reminder not only of all the effort that went into this project, but of the human stories behind the work. Thank you for writing all of this up and sharing it with us. This is incredible.

Offline 39B

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Wow. Just...wow. The pictures are priceless, the stories keep making me want to read more and more, and it's all a reminder not only of all the effort that went into this project, but of the human stories behind the work. Thank you for writing all of this up and sharing it with us. This is incredible.

And this, of course, is what keeps me going, and your praise is high, and my thanks cannot properly be given to reflect my depth of appreciation for that praise.

This thing has been snowballing tectonically on me for over ten years now, and shows no signs of leveling off.

I knew from the beginning that I was only going to be speaking to a limited number of people, but clearly, those people are deeply interested in a wide variety of included parts to this amazing story, and it's that wide part that has really been driving me, lately.

And I want to get it ALL. Every. Last. Bit. Of. It.

And I'm trying my dead-level best to write the thing in a way that causes those who are properly and deeply interested to want to keep reading, and then here you come along and tell me I'm doing the right thing, the right way, and what more could I ask for?

Nothing. Nothing in this world could I ask for more than I've already been given.

I'll be flipping additional images into these posts, in chronological story-page order, as time goes on. Once I get to the latest image, on whatever page I might be working on at the time, the frequency of those images being added to this will slow waaay down. Each page takes a loooong time to write. It's slow going. It expands on me as I do so, and I cannot in good conscience skip over those places that each page expands into. Each page is a springboard to tell more and more of the story, and a lot of times, the story branches far far away from the subject of whatever photograph might be up at the top of any given page that kicked it into gear, but it's a legitimate part of the story, deserves my full and complete attention and respect, and so I follow it.... wherever it leads me.... and it winds up taking a long time, and so I must apologize for the glacial pace of the writing, but dammit I want the thing to be complete, so...

...yeah.

And with further thanks, I shall pitch right back in to Page 56, where the PRC Door Hoists and the Torque Tube Access Flip-up Platforms are, as ever, expanding fractally on me, with no end in sight, and...

...it's very hard work, but it's so much more fun than anybody can imagine...

...that I'm not even gonna try to explain any of it.

So.

Enjoy.

Online roma847

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It existed from Day One, actually. Feast your eyes on this. Enterprise, sitting on the MLP during a deluge test during the summer of 1979! Complete with an Extensible Pipe Boom Nightmare tucked ever-so-innocently away, beneath the Hammerhead Crane Boom.

My problem when choosing photos is always the temporal reference to my STS-6 mission, so I always look for STS-6 photos first to study individual details and then to scratch. In the beginning I didn't really pay attention to that and was happy on amazing photos without knowing which mission they came from.

In this sense at the time I was planning to scratch the long stairway at the front of the MLP-2 all the way up to the top deck because that detail would have appealed to me. But then my friend DaveS (don't click!) pointed out to me that during STS-6 didn't have this staircase, which disappointed me at first.

Having seen the Extensible Pipe Boom System in the STS-6 Lift-off photo, I knew that it belongs on my agenda.

And also, in exchange for such a wondrous gift as I have just bestowed upon you, could you possibly, by some means, find a way to quit coloring snippets of your text blue? On my end of things, blue text is the sign of a hyperlink that needs clicking to see the thing it links to, and I'm constantly clicking your blue text only to find it does nothing and hyperlinks nowhere, and I am saddened each and every time I fall for it again. Red maybe? Or, better still, no color at all maybe? As an extra special favor to an extra special friend? But even if you cannot bring yourself to do so it will be ok and I'll still be your extra special friend.

BTW, you're the first to be bothered by the blue markers in my build reports.

For me, these markings are nothing more than a stylistic device to point out things that are important or interesting to me, so to speak Eye catcher. On the other hand, they are a guide for me in my meanwhile endless construction report, when I'm looking for specific details to look at how I've built this or that thing back then, what sometimes surprises me, provided I know on which side I have to search.
That's why I've now also created a table of contents for Milestones in my whole report with links to the respective page of the construction report, which is very helpful for such own research.

But you don't need to want to click on the blue spots that bother you, since you can see that they are not linked when you move the cursor over them.

As a rule, my original photos are linked with NASA Hi.Res. photos, what I wouldn't really need, but many are obviously happy about this small customer service. When I link passages of text, they are always blue and bold marked.

***************
Regards from Germany

Manfred

Under construction:
1:144 Launch Pad 39A with Challenger STS-6

Online roma847

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Wow. Just...wow. The pictures are priceless, the stories keep making me want to read more and more, and it's all a reminder not only of all the effort that went into this project, but of the human stories behind the work. Thank you for writing all of this up and sharing it with us. This is incredible.

I fully agree with Jodie and tip my hat to your space flight historically incredibly valuable work for keeping the legacy of this genial Space Shuttle technology alive.

« Last Edit: 01/08/2023 05:29 pm by roma847 »
***************
Regards from Germany

Manfred

Under construction:
1:144 Launch Pad 39A with Challenger STS-6

Online roma847

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The first image shows us the Rotating Service Structure and the Fixed Service Structure on top of the Pad Deck at Launch Complex 39-B, viewed from directly across the Flame Trench at a time when the initial phase of the construction effort of creating the towers was nearly complete, but well before the Pad became Operational. Much is already in place, but there is much more which wound up being added to the two main towers. This image is densely-labeled, identifying much which is shown, but without any explanations for what those labels actually mean. Some of it is pretty straightforward, but a lot of it is more or less opaque, and requires further reading, which is not provided on Page 1, to gain detailed understanding of it.

The second image looks back and down toward the Rotating Service Structure and the Fixed Service Structure at Launch Complex 39-B, as seen from above, at the tip end of the Hammerhead Crane, which is visible in the first image, extending outward toward the photographer, 250 feet above the Pad Deck. It too is densely-labeled, and in similar fashion as the first image, those labels are not further explained on the page, and a full description of things is spread throughout the pages which follow, instead.

You know, that I have been following your Pad 39B website with great interest for years because it represents a unique source and inspiration for my project.

Just the labels of the individual parts and assemblies of the great FSS and the RSS photo montages alone are unique and extremely interesting for me, since I like to know the technical terms of the parts that I'm building and if possible their function too.

***************
Regards from Germany

Manfred

Under construction:
1:144 Launch Pad 39A with Challenger STS-6

Offline 39B

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Ok, let's get going here, with the images, in chronological order.

The image below is the first in the series, and was taken sometime in the summer of 1980.

To the best of my knowledge, this is one of only two existing images remaining, anywhere, that show the RSS on Pad B in partial skeletal form. I have done a lot of searching, and have come up empty-handed every time, looking for other images that show the Pad at this early stage of construction. I wish I had taken more photographs. Sigh.

You're standing in front of Sheffield Steel's field trailer in the contractor's field trailer area west of Launch Complex 39-B, looking to the northeast at the Pad.

Up on top of the concrete body of the Pad, the Fixed Service Structure (red multi-level tower which was constructed using tower segments from an Apollo Program LUT) is complete, and the Rotating Service Structure to its right is being assembled by Union Ironworkers employed by Wilhoit Steel Erectors. In the photograph, it's a bare, partial, skeleton, sitting directly on top of the additional bare skeleton of the Falsework that held it up, before it was completed to the point where it became self-supporting, allowing the Falsework to be removed.

To the left of the base of the FSS, inscrutable, dark, and low, above the concrete of the Pad Deck, a snarl of leftovers from the Apollo Program can be seen (but not in any useful or understandable way), and it includes, left to right, the LOX Tower, the ECS Tower, the 9099 Building, the West Elevator, and the West Stair Tower.

Directly above and a pretty good ways behind that snarl, the Sound Suppression System Water Tower is visible against the sky.

Directly in front of the base of the FSS to the right a little, the concrete blast enclosures protecting the Stair and Freight Elevator that take you up to the Pad Deck from ground level down in the bowels of the Pad in the Pad Terminal Connection Room are visible.

On top of the FSS, the Hammerhead Crane points to the west, and on top of it, the white 80 foot tall shaft of the Lightning Mast is visible.

There's an awful lot of work going on, in, around, and above the concrete structure of the Pad.



And you can click the words in this sentence, and the link will take you to the corresponding Pad B Stories page (Page 4) that goes with this image, if you want a more detailed explanation of what it is you're seeing in the photograph up above.
« Last Edit: 01/26/2023 08:31 pm by 39B »

Online roma847

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Hi James,

is this the original page 4 you showed back in 2021 or is this a newly revised page with new links to details from the RSS drawing set?

Also the linked article MECHANICAL FEATURES OF THE SHUTTLE ROTATING SERVICE STRUCTURE by John M. Crump is very helpful for briefly understanding the individual RSS structures and equipment.

On your (new?) site I find a lot of things in much more detail that I studied during my diorama analyzes and now can understand better what I asked you about back then.

***************
Regards from Germany

Manfred

Under construction:
1:144 Launch Pad 39A with Challenger STS-6

Offline 39B

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is this the original page 4 you showed back in 2021 or is this a newly revised page with new links to details from the RSS drawing set?

It is, but it's not. Every single page has been, and continues to be, refined and updated for accuracy, as well as added to with such new information and citations I find, as I continue to research the material, and this process would appear to be something that's not going to stop, for a long time. I just keep on finding more and more and more stuff, and wherever it adds, clarifies, or corrects the material I've already produced, that material is altered to bring it into agreement with the additional verified information I've found.

So. You've seen the page, but it keeps changing and growing, so going back over the material might not be such a bad idea for yourself, or anybody else who seeks a maximally fine-grained understanding of this stuff.


Also the linked article MECHANICAL FEATURES OF THE SHUTTLE ROTATING SERVICE STRUCTURE by John M. Crump is very helpful for briefly understanding the individual RSS structures and equipment.

That one was there from the very beginning. But this is extraordinarily-dense technical, historical, and personal-experience reading, and nobody can be expected to pick it all up, on the first go. So even when it comes to unaltered blocks of text, second and third readings will almost always yield up additional information and insights. This thing is the gift that keeps on giving.


On your (new?) site I find a lot of things in much more detail that I studied during my diorama analyzes and now can understand better what I asked you about back then.

You have gotten yourself mixed up with the wrong people, and will pay the price for making such a grave mistake. Before I'm done with it, your diorama will have working flip-up platforms, extensible planks, lifting gear of all shapes and sizes from the smallest hand winch right on up to and including the 90-ton Payload Hoist. Your RSS will roll to and fro along the length of the Rail Beam with fully-functional Truck Drives out on Column Line 7, and fully-functional Bearings on the Hinge Column. On top of the FSS, your Hammerhead crane will swing through 360 degrees of travel, complete with a lifting hook capable of picking things up, and of course our Extensible Pipe Boom Nightmare, complete with a Spider Basket dangling from it which can be lowered, or raised back up again, all the way from the MLP Deckplates to the top of the FSS.

And what about that pair of Torque Tube hoists on the PCR Main Doors? I just this morning put the complete set of drawings for those two things into Page 56, and Page 56 is by no means done, and There Shall Be More. Get ready for a working pair of PCR Main Doors, complete with hinges, track girder and drive mechanism. And that's just the tip of the coming iceberg hidden in the fog, dead ahead of your steamship which is underway at full speed.

You are doomed.
« Last Edit: 01/26/2023 11:00 pm by 39B »

Offline D_Dom

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Wow, thank you for the effort you have put into this. Count me as greatly appreciative. My grandfather was an ironworker and I read with interest all the details of fitting that steel.
Space is not merely a matter of life or death, it is considerably more important than that!

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