92

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


67

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.


43

The loading / unloading fixture was called the Mate / Demate Device. There were permanent ones at Kennedy Space Center and at Edwards Airforce Base (the nominal Orbiter landing sites). There was a third device, somewhat different in appearance, the Orbiter Lifting Fixture (OLF). This was used at at Palmdale (where the Orbiters were built) when they went ...


24

Addressing the "Are there pictures?" part of the question. From the Space Shuttle Orbiter Approach and Landing Test Final Evaluation Report


24

It was on the airplane, not the shuttle, see this NASA article: A crew escape tunnel was installed aboard NASA 747 aircraft number 905 (NASA 905) during the aircraft's modification process for the Shuttle program. The tunnel extended down three decks, from the flight deck to the bottom left side of the fuselage. In a catastrophic emergency, the ...


21

For the Orbiter aerosurfaces to move, hydraulic pressure must be supplied from the Orbiter's Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) (a poor name for these critical devices - the name came from the analogous devices in aircraft!). The APUs were not running for ferry flight, and control locks were installed to hold the elevons in a neutral position. For the ferry ...


16

Answer: not much. Here is a photo I took looking aft inside of the 747. Here is another just below the hard points. Ignore the silly people. ;)


15

Some work on refueling capability for the SCA was done: Studies were conducted to equip the SCA with aerial refueling equipment, a modification already made to the U.S. Air Force E-4 (modified 747-200s) and 747 tanker transports for the IIAF. However, during formation flying with a tanker aircraft to test refueling approaches, minor cracks were spotted ...


14

Given the limited fuel range of N911, I would wonder why the fuel tank wasn't expanded From the Shuttle Ferry Flight blog: ...the SCA has a very limited range when ferrying the Orbiter. That range depends primarily on the weight of the Orbiter and the air temperature. Winds are also a factor. The heavier the Orbiter is, the less fuel we can load into ...


12

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. Original photo from which the crop was taken to Wikipedia. ...


9

Supplementary answer: I've searched the Aviation Week and Space Technology archives for any references to the Easter Island abort site planning. There isn't a lot, but everything I've seen talks only about runway enhancements, nothing about port facility enhancements. The requirement seems to have been to accommodate the "space shuttle and at least one ...


7

As for your bonus question: NASA operates four Navy surplus F/A-18s as chase/observation planes for test flights. They're unarmed and demilitarized; if for some reason the SCA needed an armed escort, they'd get it from USAF or USN. In addition to those F/A-18s, NASA has historically used T-38s and F-104s in this role -- they still have T-38s and still use ...


3

This information can be found in a document produced by the Historic American Engineering Record as part of their effort to document the Space Transportation System. The pdf document is located here (too long to post the log).


2

According to the NASA page on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, pig iron and pea gravel were loaded inside to balance the aircraft: "You see, the nearly 2 tons (1710 pounds) of pig iron up-front in the former first class section of the aircraft, and the 3.5 tons (7000 pounds) of pea gravel in the cargo hold are for keeping the aircraft’s center of gravity ...


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