I found this image online, but is it a real message? Space Shuttle on 747 transport plane, showing the mounting on the 747, on which the words are stencilled 'Attach Orbiter Here, Black Side Down'


3 Answers 3


I believe it's real, just a little bit of fun.

The Wikipedia article on the SCA states it as fact, as do other historical articles.

Search engines will lead you to multiple pictures of the attach points from different angles, all showing the label, for example:

shuttle carrier attachment pylon photographed from a low angle

It looks like an earlier version of the label, since painted over and replaced, was even sillier:

enter image description here

"Lefty Loosy, Righty Tighty" being a well-known mnemonic for which way to turn standard-threaded mechanical screws and bolts.

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    $\begingroup$ I like the fact that there's a sense of humor at NASA. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ Russell, if you look closely at your 1st pic you will see the 2nd bolt on the right is anti-locked, unless its a left hand thread which I doubt... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @BernardSmith I don't know about the bolts themselves, but the wire "lock" does basically nothing. A tech may have just ignored the wire and re-tightened the bolt at some point, leaving it to look like it was clocked in the wrong position for a right handed bolt. $\endgroup$
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ If the wire was properly installed it shouldn't be possible to re-tighten the bolt because it can't turn to loosen in the first place. You'd have to over-torque it. I know NASA has made some mistakes, but I wouldn't be that careless on my little airplane, much less a mount that attaches a space shuttle to a 747 $\endgroup$
    – bridiver
    Commented Jul 3, 2018 at 4:41
  • $\begingroup$ Any idea who approved this at NASA? If they are still around, they deserve a raise! It's important to take your work seriously, but its just as important to smile! :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 15 at 8:04

It's real!

Here are some pictures I took on April 29, 2014 as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (N905NA) was being moved from Ellington Field to its final resting place at Space Center Houston.

You can see the label as I zoom in (and walk down the railroad tracks) in the series of pictures, especially if you view them full size.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ That was a neat process to witness. I saw it from Clear Lake City Blvd at Hwy 3, later at night, and seeing this 747 roll out of radiation fog while the wireline crews moved traffic signals and power lines out of the way was a real trip. Though I wish I'd joined friends to see it the next night (I think?) from the roof of Franca's. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ I would have preferred a real Orbiter to the fake one, but a real SCA is not a bad consolation prize! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ Fake orbiter makes me feel less bad about our habit of leaving things outside :) $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. Great to see photos you took yourself, but I accepted the other answer due to the historical angle as well. $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the interesting question @Baldrickk. When I get this many votes on an answer, the acceptance is almost irrelevant! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 15:02

It's real. I took the original photo of the message that you posted, at the Edwards AFB open day. I have the original image from which this crop was taken (right down to the lens flare over the fastener!). Good humor!

Open day at Edwards Air Force base October 2006. Just to show I was in proximity.enter image description here

Original photo from which the crop was taken to Wikipedia. If you look closely you will see the lens flare over the fastener, same as in the crop. Lighting direction and quality exactly the same etc.

Also, here's the wikipedia discussion, similar to what you are having here . . .


enter image description here

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ No offense, but anyone can write this. Any proof? $\endgroup$
    – user10509
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ Oh nice. Can you link the image? The original source is about as good as you can get. $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 17:09

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