Author Topic: Launch Complex 39-B Construction Photos 1980 to 1985 Space Shuttle Modifications  (Read 7327 times)

Offline 39B

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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.

And thank you right back. You are one of the people I am writing this for, and to know that I managed to reach you with it, in some sort of meaningful way that you can appreciate on a personal level, is all I'll ever need to know that all of the time and effort that I've spent so far with it, and will continue to spend in the future with it, was done, is done, and will be done, for the very best reasons possible. For the people. For those who were a part of it, and for those who want to know about the heights they rose to, be it walking on high steel, be it sitting at a desk poring over an intractable problem, or be it anywhere at all in between. So again, my thanks, right back to you.
« Last Edit: 01/27/2023 01:50 am by 39B »

Online roma847

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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.

I think that what you are doing is a clever approach for sustainable improvements your historical valuable 39B documentation by addition new knowledge and linking it with high detailed NASA drawings.

You was working in construction management that time during building Launch Complex 39-B and can report the rest of the world first-handed about it, and I'm a Real Space Modeler trying to recreate the entire Launch Pad 39-A in a small Diorama (1:160) during the time of Challenger's maiden flight (STS-6) in order trying to keep the Shuttle legacy alive and keeping it in good memory for all modelers.

You have gotten yourself mixed up with the wrong people, and will pay the price for making such a grave mistake.

Are you pulling my leg? On the contrary, I consider myself lucky to have received a deeper insight into many technical details of the unique Shuttle technology and valuable references and sources through your documentation, which I have integrated into my project report to the delight and astonishment of many model builders here in NSF and other forums too, what has always inspired me and has deepened my attention to detail more and more. And the only question that remains is whether that's a curse or a blessing ...

BTW, the image you are drawing of my Pad-A Diorama is simply unrealistic and, in contrast to Real Space Modeling, only existing within the realm of vivid fantasy ...

Regards from Germany


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

Offline 39B

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Ok, here's the next image in the series, very possibly taken on the same day that the previous image was taken.

This is the second of the only two images of the RSS at Pad 39-B showing the RSS as a partially-constructed skeleton which still exist. This is it. This is all you'll ever get. But who knows, perhaps one day I'll be proven wrong, and I can come back here and edit these words and include additional images taken at the same time. But not yet. Not now.

While driving your car, you've pulled to the side, just off the asphalt, where the road that takes you to Pad B, coming in off of Beach Road north of Pad A, bends to the left just before it meets the Pad Perimeter Fence, looking northwest toward the Pad.

In the distance, a large portion of the entire Pad can be seen beyond the Perimeter Fence, and on top of the raised concrete mass of the Pad itself, visible in left-to-right order:

The skeletal RSS sitting on the Falsework that Wilhoit created to carry it before it became self-supporting.

The red multi-level tower of the FSS with Hammerhead Crane and Lightning Mast on top of it.

The dark low snarl of West Stair Tower / West Elevator / 9099 Building / West Side Flame Deflector (in Park Position).

Starting from above the dark rectangle of the West Side Flame Deflector, the raised trusswork of the North Piping Bridge spans the (unseen) Flame Trench eastward to the right, where it terminates at the LH2 (Liquid Hydrogen) Tower.

In the middle of the North Bridge span, the East Stair Tower rises above the Bridge behind it starting from its location on the Pad Deck, east of the Trench.

Immediately to the right of the East Stair Tower's base, the dark rectangle of the East Side Flame Deflector (also in Park Position) is clearly visible.

Between the East SFD and the LH2 Tower, the High Pressure Gas Tower extends above the top of the SFD.

Directly beneath the East SFD and the High Pressure Gas Tower, some of the white tanks of the Pad High Pressure Gas Storage Area can be seen in the cutout in the Pad Slope where they are located beneath a thick slab of concrete which is there to protect the rest of the facilities, equipment, and possibly even flight hardware, up on top of the Pad, should one of the tanks unexpectedly fail.

Directly in line with the High Pressure Gas Area, extending to either side of it, a row of "fence posts" extends from the Hypergolic Oxidizer Storage Facility partially-obscured by a faded sign on the Perimeter Fence, all the way out to the Pad where it disappears into the (not visible) east/west-running Pad Piping Tunnel. These "posts" are pipe supports, and carry a run of piping for N2O4 Hypergol to the Pad from the tanks where it's stored in the Facility.

Farthest right, the SSW Water Tower (yes, I know, the acronym "SSW" includes the word "Water", but it was NEVER called the SS Water Tower, and instead was invariably referred to as the ssW water tower, and after a while, you get familiar enough with these kinds of linguistic quirks associated with the Pad, and become inured to them).

In the near foreground of this early-morning photograph, just past the Fence, between it and the Pad Perimeter Road, a tractor with a bush hog awaits its daily tasks in the never-ending battle against Florida's wild and weedy vegetation.

It is the beginning of a new workday.

There is much to do.

The corresponding Pad B Stories page (Page 5) associated with this image can be reached by clicking these words, if you'd like a brief description of how this photograph came to be taken, along with an introduction to the layout nomenclature used to locate everything on the growing structure, which is given via use of the contract drawings for the Primary Framing of the RSS, along with its lower main flooring levels, as well as isometric views of the entire pair of structures (RSS and FSS on top of the Pad Deck). Additionally, the Hinge Column Bearings are discussed, and the difficulties associated with the use of revised contract drawings are introduced, also.
« Last Edit: 03/03/2023 03:20 pm by 39B »

Offline 39B

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This is taking much longer than I'd like it to, but... ah well, so it must be.

And here is our next image in the series, showing the Rotating Service Structure at Space Shuttle Launch Complex 39-B still in its very early stages of construction, some time in late 1980 or perhaps very early 1981, but sensibly complete insofar as its steel skeleton is now nearly finished, and the business of installing the insulated metal siding panels which enclosed the Payload Changeout Room plus a few other areas, is now well underway.

These words, when clicked, will take you to Page 6 of the Pad B Stories, which this photograph leads, and If you're interested in really learning how Launch Complex 39-B (and 39-A as well) was modified and constructed in order to allow it to service and support Space Shuttle launches, then this is the page where you can really sink your teeth into things for real.

Page 6 is where we really start to bear down on learning how (and why) the Launch Pad was built the way it was, and it uses one of my old Sheffield Steel shipping lists, which I saved, and still have, to dig down deeply into the bewildering nomenclature of the Pad structures, initiating the teaching process whereby you will learn the whole place, and it's not an easy place (It's a Launch Pad, right? It's not supposed to be easy. It never can be easy, right?), but it's an exceptionally rewarding place, and if you read slow, read for comprehension instead of speed, and re-read whenever and wherever things get a little densely-compacted, so as you really do understand what you just read, fully, before moving on the next paragraphs in the narrative, then, in the process of learning about the Launch Pad, you will also find yourself learning about no end of other fascinating real-world stuff, and... knowledge really is power, so... dig in. Drink deeply of it. Sink your teeth all the way down into it, bite each piece off, one at a time, chew each piece thoroughly, and in so doing, each piece will prepare you for the next, and also prepare you for things you may not encounter again for literal years, but which, when you cross paths with them, you will discover to your glee that you're the only one who can handle it, and life rewards greatly, those people who are the only ones who can handle something, especially when that something is worthy.

Page 6 is also where linked citations, in similar form as footnoted citations in a proper technical or scientific paper, start to come into play in a big way, and there's a lot of them, and some of them are simple-enough links to things like Wikipedia articles, and some of them have a little more substance to them, and some of them are most very definitely not "easy" reading, and can get pretty radical in places, and all of them are authoritative, some of which are original material from original technical sources, but again, if you approach them in the correct way, click every damn one of them as you go along, go slow, go back and re-read whenever you're not totally sure you understand something, then they become extraordinarily rewarding, and on top of that, a lot of it is just really cool stuff, and is fun, in and of itself, for purely technical, and sometimes even artistic reasons.

This is where the Engineering Drawings really start to come into play, and if you stay with it and do not allow yourself to succumb to the temptation to skim the damn thing, in the process of learning about The Pad, you're also going to learn about, and become proficient, with the skills involved in reading structural blueprints in particular, and engineering design drawings in general, and oh by the way, they pay quite well for those skills, so here's your chance to learn something that might wind up buying you a house some day, and you get to learn it while having fun with it, learning about How The Launch Pad Was Built.
« Last Edit: 03/03/2023 03:24 pm by 39B »


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