Author Topic: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle  (Read 79339 times)

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Hey there everybody.

I did five years on B Pad working structural steel when it was being converted from an Apollo pad into a Shuttle pad.

I was in construction management, and had a camera permit, and took a lot of photos, many of which wound up in photo albums that have been squirreled away, all these many long years since the early 1980's.

Recently, my son advised me that the nice people who frequent this bulletin board might be interested in taking a look at things, as seen from the inside, as the structural elements of Launch Complex 39-B were erected.

I just took one of the pages from the photo album and placed in on the scanner and scanned it at 300dpi (the maximum resolution that my not-so-wonderful scanner will do), and it actually came out better than I expected it would. The resulting image (OMBUU arm lift) weighs in at a hefty 6megs and I'm going to try to upload it with this message. If it works, and anybody shows an interest, I can upload a lot more.

I've got an amazing amount of additional photos, including all of the swing-arm lifts and a lot of general shots of the pad from on the pad deck and up in the structure of the RSS, and it might be fun to share it with everybody. I've done a little poking around on the internet, and there does not seem to be anything else like these shots that is freely available.

In the top left photograph of the attached image, standing in front of the OMBUU Arm facing the camera, are Howard Baxter, Wade Ivey, and a guy who's name eludes me. I'll try to identify people in shots if possible, and if anybody else can help with identifying anybody in any of these scanned photographs, by all means do so.

So here goes, and if it works, and if you nice people like it, there shall be more to come.

Offline Sarah

  • Shuttle Hugger
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 268
  • 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
  • Iowa
  • Liked: 4
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #1 on: 06/08/2011 03:43 PM »
Thank you for posting these. I would be interested in seeing the rest of them. This is a historic pad.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2011 03:47 PM by Sarah »
Photo Album
Launches: 51L, 133, 134, 135
Scrubs: 70
Landings: 135

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #2 on: 06/08/2011 03:46 PM »
> Thank you for posting these. I would be interested in seeing the rest of
> them. This is a historic pad.

Your wish is my command. Second image is on its way up.

I'll be at this, on and off, for some time to come, and welcome any input from anyone on anything to do with any of this.

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #3 on: 06/08/2011 03:50 PM »
Ok, looks like the first post actually worked.

Tra la la.

And since we started out lifting the OMBUU, let's continue with that lift.

Offline kcrick

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 271
  • Connecticut
  • Liked: 11
  • Likes Given: 1300
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #4 on: 06/08/2011 03:52 PM »
Thank you for posting these. I would be interested in seeing the rest of them. This is a historic pad.

Nice photos !  Can't wait to see some more.
Kevin

Offline Jester

  • NSF Night Flyer
  • Administrator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6734
  • Some Space Agency
  • Liked: 2699
  • Likes Given: 79
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #5 on: 06/08/2011 03:54 PM »
by all means, please post more, great stuff !
thanks

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #6 on: 06/08/2011 04:09 PM »
OMBUU Arm lift, third and final page, from up on the RSS.

Top right photograph is Wade Ivey (owner of Ivey Steel) and Rink Chiles (Ivey Steel ironworker general foreman, both facing away from the camera) and a gentleman who's name eludes me who worked for Olson Electric.

It was really cool being able to wander around all over that tower with a camera, in case anybody was wondering what that might have been like.

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #7 on: 06/08/2011 04:37 PM »
Ok, that's enough OMBUU. We're just going through the photo album, one sheet at a time, so things may or not be equally as interesting, and may or may not be quite chronologically just so, but in the interests of getting it all, I'm gonna get it all.

This shot includes an image of the Shuttle coming in for a landing (sorry, I cannot remember which mission, but perhaps my son might), as well as images of my son taken with the Pads in the background.

You can't really see it, but the orbiter is in the air, inbound to runway 33 to the right of the VAB in the top left photo. It's a shade below the roof height of the VAB. Find the white trashcan above the top corner of the windshield on the pickup truck, then notice the guy in the light-colored shirt who almost looks as if he's sitting on the trash can. Immediately left of him, farther away, is another person's head that more or less touches the light-shirt guy's head. Left of THAT guy's head, is a gap, before you encounter another head. The orbiter is directly above the center of that gap. Maybe I'll play around with this shot some day, to enhance it somehow. I dunno.

The steel platform my son is standing on in the lower right photo is the "Centaur Porch" and eventually wound up on the FSS where it was supposed to support the Centaur Rolling Beam Umbilical Assembly, or RBUS, (pronounced "arbus"), but the Challenger disaster put a stop to all Shuttle Centaur operations and the porch remained on the FSS, unused.

My son, by the way, was, is, and ever shall be, the light and the rudder of my life.

Just so you know.

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #8 on: 06/08/2011 04:49 PM »
FSS Swingarm Strongback lift.

This strongback supported, if memory serves me well, which it may or may not, the latchback mechanism for the GOX arm.

Offline arkaska

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3041
  • Sweden
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #9 on: 06/08/2011 05:03 PM »
Thanks for these historical photos and especially for the short stories accompanying them. I love that you give us some background to the photos.

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #10 on: 06/08/2011 05:08 PM »
FSS Swingarm Strongback lift.

Ok, here's page two of three, detailing this lift.

Something that shows fairly well in this series is the scale of things out on the pad. In the previous image (FSS Swingarm Strongback Lift 1.jpg), the lower right photograph gives a good sense of the size of this strongback, as it looms over the ironworkers on the ground beneath it. Then, in the lower left photo of this image, that same strongback is now dwarfed by the Fixed Service Structure that it's about to be bolted on to.

Everything out on the Pad is cyclopean in size, and sometimes it's hard to grasp the true depth of that.

The Space Shuttle is often times compared to an airliner, but that doesn't really give a proper sense of its size. Walk around underneath it, while it's sitting on the MLP deck, and you immediately realize that the Space Shuttle is no airliner. It's a high-rise hotel. Or maybe an ocean liner. It's BIG.

And to think it suddenly spits a volcano of fire, and proceeds to lurch directly straight up and away from all of the massive service structure that it was prepared for flight upon ....... well ....... it beggars the imagination to believe such a thing could even be possible.

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #11 on: 06/08/2011 05:29 PM »
FSS Swingarm Strongback Lift.

And now, having taken another look at my own pictures (duh, what a concept, eh?), I can see plainly that this strongback had nothing to do with the GOX Arm latchback, but was instead the support upon which the GOX Arm hinges were mounted. So it held up the whole GOX Arm.

Ok, glad we got that cleared up.

Some day I'll tell you a tale of $40,000.00 worth of bolts that we had to eat the cost on. Bolts that held the swing arms to the FSS. Aircraft bolts. Yikes! But not now. There's also a psychotic story involving the GOX Arm hinges, too. But again, not now.

These photos were taken from out on the end of the Hammerhead Crane, looking back toward the FSS.

Helluva view from out there on the end of that crane. Which was nowhere near as sturdy as it might appear in some photographs. You could feel it bounce up and down as you walked on it. Three hundred feet up, over the bottom of the Flame Trench. What fun!

These shots are all more or less self-explanatory, but the bottom right photo is interesting for two reasons:

Reason number one is that a close examination of the headache ball on that crane will cause you to realize that we really didn't have another inch to go on getting that strongback up any higher. We'd done used up all the stick that crane had to give. But it worked, and that's what matters, right?

Reason number two is just that it's a neato angle, looking down the barrel, two-hundred and fifty feet back down to the crane cab on the pad deck. I've always liked this shot.

And thanks for the nice words about these little stories that accompany the images. I'll keep 'em coming, ok?
« Last Edit: 06/08/2011 05:29 PM by 39B »

Offline psloss

  • Veteran armchair spectator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 16844
  • Liked: 950
  • Likes Given: 376
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #12 on: 06/08/2011 05:30 PM »
Thanks for these historical photos and especially for the short stories accompanying them. I love that you give us some background to the photos.
Agree -- really appreciate the photos and the background.  Thanks.

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #13 on: 06/08/2011 05:34 PM »
Thanks for the encouragement, everyone.

I'm stopping for now.

Gotta go run errands in a town fifty miles away.

Not sure when I'll be back.

Again, thanks for the kind words, one and all.

Online Galactic Penguin SST

Ok, that's enough OMBUU. We're just going through the photo album, one sheet at a time, so things may or not be equally as interesting, and may or may not be quite chronologically just so, but in the interests of getting it all, I'm gonna get it all.

This shot includes an image of the Shuttle coming in for a landing (sorry, I cannot remember which mission, but perhaps my son might), as well as images of my son taken with the Pads in the background.

You can't really see it, but the orbiter is in the air, inbound to runway 33 to the right of the VAB in the top left photo. It's a shade below the roof height of the VAB. Find the white trashcan above the top corner of the windshield on the pickup truck, then notice the guy in the light-colored shirt who almost looks as if he's sitting on the trash can. Immediately left of him, farther away, is another person's head that more or less touches the light-shirt guy's head. Left of THAT guy's head, is a gap, before you encounter another head. The orbiter is directly above the center of that gap. Maybe I'll play around with this shot some day, to enhance it somehow. I dunno.

The steel platform my son is standing on in the lower right photo is the "Centaur Porch" and eventually wound up on the FSS where it was supposed to support the Centaur Rolling Beam Umbilical Assembly, or RBUS, (pronounced "arbus"), but the Challenger disaster put a stop to all Shuttle Centaur operations and the porch remained on the FSS, unused.

My son, by the way, was, is, and ever shall be, the light and the rudder of my life.

Just so you know.

Wow, the photos are excellent, especially from a perspective I've never seen before! Thanks for posting!  :)

By the way, I think I nailed down the mission to STS-41-G (Oct. 1984). The only other pre-Challenger mission that landed on KSC Runway 33 was STS-51-D (Apr. 1985), but judging from the construction progress, it would have been a bit too late to account for pad B's first use a few months later.
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #15 on: 06/09/2011 02:38 AM »
Ok, this one is a hodgepodge.

Top left is a shot by Jack Petty of me standing on top of the Lightning Mast. Go here http://www.16streets.com/MacLaren/Misc/TechnoRedneck.htm to see enlargements of the shot that make me visible (sort of) along with a crazed (but one-hundred percent true down to the smallest detail) story of a near-fatal misadventure at Pad A.

Top right is a shot of John Foster (I hope I got that name right) and James Dixon, who were ironworkers at Ivey Steel. James is still with Ivey as far as I know. Just another day on the job.

Bottom left is unknown, grinding the iron, high above nothing at all, on the 135 level of the RSS, at the orbiter mold line cutout area. The funny-looking cutout corresponds to the orbiter's right OMS Pod, and behind our ironworker is the right orbiter side-seal panel extending vertically up and out of the photo. There was a screw-up with the design of that side-seal panel in that it was originally fabricated and installed as a hinged affair, complete with actuator and all the rest, to allow it to fold out of the way when the RSS was mated or demated with the vehicle. But since this whole area is forward of the RSS hinge column, as the RSS retreats from or approaches the vehicle, this panel is moving away and back, or in and forward, such that it can never interfere with the Shuttle. So they wound up welding it all up solid and it was a nice waste of time and money to do so.

Bottom right is Durwood G. (Gene) Lockamy, fooling around for the camera on the catwalk area that runs around behind the RSS at the 135 level. Gene was very low key, one of the nicest people you'd ever meet, and a hell of an ironworker, too. Behind him are girts supporting the insulated metal panels that make up the walls of the Payload Changeout Room. My first ever foray on to high steel, occurred several years prior to this shot being taken, on these same girts, but without any insulated metal paneling attached to them, somewhere around the 190 or maybe 195 foot level. It was scary as hell, but I swallowed hard and stepped out there and did my job. After a while, you more or less get used to it, and it's no big thing. But at first, it's a real attention-getter, and you give it every drop of attention you've got.

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #16 on: 06/09/2011 02:55 AM »
Payload Cannister, first lift. Fit check, test of the 90 ton hoist, and just a general rehearsal of things, looking to see if there are any hidden problems or peculiarities. That vehicle that carries the Cannister out to the pad was a really weird critter, and had about a million wheels. Bottom right image is Jack Petty, who took my picture as I stood on the Lightning Mast, and who shared the deranged misadventure with me at A Pad. Jack was the tech rep for BRPH, who were the NASA-side architects and engineers that watched over the construction effort we were involved with on the pad. Jack was a rough tough ex-ironworker with a heart of gold. But don't tell him I said that, 'cause he'd hate it if you did.

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #17 on: 06/09/2011 03:11 AM »
Cannister fit check. Fire.

Came down off of the FSS, and just as the elevator doors were opening, we heard a pop, and the doors opened to reveal that one of the electrical panels there on the pad deck at the foot of the tower had caught fire. So since I had a camera on me, I took some pictures of it.

Big excitement.

Shortly after the bottom right shot was taken, a security guy came up and demanded to see my camera permit.

Which I showed him.

And he seemed quite disappointed with that turn of events, and eventually departed to go scrutinize something else somewhere.

Ah well, such is life.

Also, in the bottom right photo, you can see that all the swing arms have been hung on the FSS. And the good old Centaur Porch is up there too, sticking out to the right up near the top of the Cannister.
« Last Edit: 06/09/2011 03:20 AM by 39B »

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #18 on: 06/09/2011 03:23 AM »
Top left: Myself on the left SRB Access Platform, up next to the RCS Room on top of the RSS. The view from up in this area is really nice. Bottom right: myself again, on the Pad Slope, with the Payload Cannister behind me. Top right: Dave Skinner as the PGHM Bridge Beam was worked into position inside the PCR. Bottom left: Steve Skinner (Dave's brother) on the pad deck.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2011 12:27 AM by 39B »

Offline 39B

  • Member
  • Posts: 95
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos - Space Shuttle
« Reply #19 on: 06/09/2011 03:25 AM »
Ok, that's enough for now.

We'll do the PGHM Bridge Beam lift when I get back, ok?

Tags: