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  Palmdale Plant 42: Birthplace of the orbiters

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Author Topic:   Palmdale Plant 42: Birthplace of the orbiters
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-08-2006 07:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Assemblywoman Sharon Runner release
Assemblywoman calls for Atlantis to retire in Palmdale

Assemblywoman Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) has introduced a Joint Resolution requesting Palmdale, California as the permanent home of the retired Orbiter Atlantis. If passed, the California Legislature would transmit an official request to the President and leaders of Congress, proposing Palmdale for the prestigious honor.

"It just makes sense for Atlantis to return home to Palmdale" said Runner. "This resolution is an important step in the process. It will demonstrate that California is united behind Palmdale as the proper location."

Space Shuttle Atlantis carried out 21 space flights, including the Galileo planetary explorer mission in 1989. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced its intentions to stand down or inactivate the Orbiter Atlantis following mission STS-126, which is presently scheduled for April 2008.

Palmdale is where every orbiter, Enterprise through Endeavour, was assembled and tested, including Atlantis; the facility continues to support the Space Shuttle Program with hardware fabrication and repair. Runner's Assembly Joint Resolution 52 calls for public display of Atlantis at a designated museum, which the Palmdale facility could easily assist with.

"Having been born and raised in the Antelope Valley, I have seen our Aerospace industry grow and flourish here over the years." said Runner. "While it was some time ago, I can remember when Palmdale first delivered Atlantis for service to NASA back in 1985."

Following introduction, AJR 52 now awaits referral to a policy committee. If approved in committee, the resolution will move on for consideration by the full Assembly.

For more about the orbiters' post-retirement plans, see: Retired shuttles on display

Ben
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posted 05-08-2006 08:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Atlantis has flown 26 times not 21, Mrs. Runner. And few would get to see it in Palmdale.

I still believe Enterprise should be the one, if any, to be sent there.

ejectr
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posted 05-08-2006 08:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Palmdale? Who the heck would take a trip to the high desert in CA to see a retired shuttle?

I know a lot of locals go there to see one land, but active and static displays are two different ball games.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-09-2006 01:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the full text of the Joint Resolution:
BILL NUMBER: AJR 52

INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Sharon Runner

APRIL 26, 2006

Relative to the Orbiter Atlantis.

AJR52, as introduced, Sharon Runner.Orbiter Atlantis: retirement.

This measure would request the President and the Congress of the United States and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to retire the Orbiter Atlantis to Palmdale, California, its place of origin for eventual public display at a designated museum to inspire and educate people for years to come about the many achievements of NASA's Space Shuttle Program.

Fiscal committee: no.

WHEREAS, Atlantis, the fourth orbiter to become operational at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), was named after the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966. The two-masted, 460-ton ketch was the first United States vessel to be used for oceanographic research; and

WHEREAS, The Space Shuttle Atlantis has carried on the spirit of the sailing vessel with 21 space flights of its own, including the Galileo planetary explorer mission in 1989 and the deployment of the Arthur Holley Compton Gamma Ray Observatory in 1991. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced its intentions to stand down or inactivate the Orbiter Atlantis following mission STS−126, which is presently scheduled for April 2008; and

WHEREAS, Palmdale, California is where all the orbiters, Enterprise through Endeavour, were assembled and tested, including Atlantis, which was delivered for service to NASA in April 1985. The facility in Palmdale has performed the maintenance and modernization for all of the orbiters (Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP)) through 2001 when that effort was transitioned to KSC; and

WHEREAS, Atlantis benefitted from lessons learned in the construction and testing of Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger. At rollout, its weight was some 6,974 pounds less than Columbia. The experience gained during the Orbiter assembly process also enabled Atlantis to be completed with a 49.5 percent reduction in man hours (compared to Columbia). Much of this decrease can be attributed to the greater use of thermal protection blankets on the upper orbiter body instead of tiles; and

WHEREAS, Atlantis was shipped to Palmdale, California to undergo upgrades and modifications. These modifications included a drag chute, new plumbing lines that configured the orbiter for extended duration, more than 800 new heat protection tiles and blankets and new insulation for the main landing gear doors, and structural mods to the Atlantis airframe. Altogether, 165 modifications were made to Atlantis over the 20 months it spent in Palmdale, California; and

WHEREAS, The Palmdale facility continues to support the Space Shuttle Program with hardware fabrication and repair, although the workload has been diminishing each year. The people and facility there are certified for human-rated spaceflight hardware, tooling, and support equipment for both the Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station; and

WHEREAS, Retiring Atlantis in Palmdale will support the facility's project "Vision for Space Exploration." It will free an OPF (Orbiter Processing Facility) for NASA's Exploration Mission Directorate, provide for a dedicated and focused workforce within ground operations at KSC to maintain and process Discovery and Endeavour to fly out the remainder of the Space Shuttle Program safely, and help to stabilize the small Space Shuttle workforce in Palmdale to be able to provide optimal preplanned as well as emergent support to the program through fly-out and termination; and

WHEREAS, The Palmdale facility and its workers could also help to preserve and prepare the Orbiter Atlantis for eventual transfer to its designated public display location once it is declared surplus and donated by NASA to a museum; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature of the State of California respectfully requests the President and Congress of the United States and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to retire the Orbiter Atlantis to Palmdale, California, its place of origin for eventual public display at a designated museum to inspire and educate people for years to come about the many achievements of NASA's Space Shuttle Program; and be it further

Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly and the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States, and to the author for appropriate distribution.

OV-105
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posted 05-09-2006 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ejectr:
Palmdale? Who the heck would take a trip to the high desert in CA to see a retired shuttle?
I would! Remember they offered one to Edwards AFB and they turned it down. It is hard to get onto the base now so Palmdale is a good choice. They have a nice SR-71 display at Air Force Plant 42 already. It also has one of the D-21 drones. I sure miss going to Dryden.

Aztecdoug
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posted 05-09-2006 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It sounds like a brilliant idea to me!

Jacques van Oene
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posted 05-09-2006 12:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jacques van Oene     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ejectr:
Palmdale? Who the heck would take a trip to the high desert in CA to see a retired shuttle?

I would

Well I did once take a trip to Palmdale in November 2000 and saw Columbia there, it was GREAT!

ejectr
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posted 05-09-2006 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well that's 3 votes... two from Californians (as expected) and one from a person who saw Columbia in dry dock.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-09-2006 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ejectr:
Palmdale? Who the heck would take a trip to the high desert in CA to see a retired shuttle?
How many people travel to Hutchinson, Kansas? How many go to Mitchell, Indiana? Or for that matter, Wapakoneta, Ohio?

There is precedence for an area's history to play a leading role in site location for artifacts. Or, in the case of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, it can serve as the only attraction to bring tourists to an otherwise neglected vacation spot.

While I am not personally in favor with sending Atlantis to Palmdale, I can certainly understand Assemblywoman Runner's intentions. Not only would it recognize the history of their Space Shuttle facilities but it would create a reason for tourists to visit, which translates to a healthier local economy.

And let's not forget that within the next 10 years, the Mojave area is likely going to see a boost in their local traffic with the plans by Virgin Galactic to base their U.S. space tourism operations there. Not only will paying passengers be traveling to the 'high desert in CA' but so will their families and spectators who will be looking for more to do in the area.

OV-105
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posted 05-09-2006 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry, Mojave is a dive. If Virgin does fly they will fly the people up form L.A./ Hollywood and then fly them back. I even know desert rats that won't go to Mojave. The L.A. gangs are migrating even up to there. You spend the $50,000 or what ever Virgin is charging and your flight will be celebrated at Denny's. I still would like Atlantis, Discovery or Endeavour at Palmdale.

ejectr
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posted 05-09-2006 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My son lives in Rosamond, just a short from Palmdale and is stationed at Edwards. He lives and works in the desert during the week. Friday night his bag is packed and he is out of there for LA and Long Beach every week end all weekend.

He sent me photos of the area he lives in. If you like nothingness and Joshua trees, that's the place to go, but it's no place to put a history making space shuttle and expect crowds of people to flock to it.

Aztecdoug
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posted 05-09-2006 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ejectr:
He sent me photos of the area he lives in. If you like nothingness and Joshua trees, that's the place to go, but it's no place to put a history making space shuttle and expect crowds of people to flock to it.

It actually kind of sounds nice when you describe it like that... and those trees made a good backdrop for the cover a certain U-2 album.

The Antelope Valley is also a nice place to break the sound barrier, break Mach 2, Mach 3, Mach 4, Mach 5, Mach 6, Mach 6.7, land the first winged space vehicle... etc...

Many Moon rocks are displayed in the home town locations of various astronauts. Space vehicles have also been displayed in a similar manner. Imagine celebrating the workforce that built the most sophisticated machinery ever built in history?

Those uncomplicated surroundings contrast the vibrant community that thrives and creates the tools which have supported some of man's greatest endeavors.

To people on the West Coast, the museums of Washington are remote and unreachable without a large expenditure of personal funds to see what the hands and tax dollars of Californian citizens have crafted. From our perspective, Washington is a place where we send our tax money and aerospace vehicles and never see anything in return.

Personally, I am going to support the little guy or gal in the Antelope Valley who created and flew these great flying machines, every time.

capoetc
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posted 05-09-2006 11:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Outstanding! I'm glad to hear that California is going to be funding aerospace research and development instead of the US Government.

I personally don't have a problem with Atlantis going to Palmdale, but if the procedure is for spacecraft to be transferred to the Smithsonian and then a decision made on the ultimate destination, then we either should do that or change the procedure.

ejectr
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posted 05-10-2006 06:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, eventually there will be three of them that they will put somewhere in this great land of ours. If one of those places is Palmdale, so be it. Enjoy!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-21-2006 09:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the Los Angeles Daily News:
State legislation aimed at returning the space shuttle Atlantis to its Palmdale birthplace after it retires passed an Assembly committee vote Tuesday and now heads to a floor vote.

Assembly Joint Resolution 52, authored by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, asks the president, Congress and NASA to send Atlantis to Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale for display upon its planned retirement in 2008. The bill was approved on a unanimous vote by the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee.

The bill now heads to a vote of the full Assembly, which will likely be held next week.

rocket ron
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posted 06-22-2006 05:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rocket ron   Click Here to Email rocket ron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having lived in Palmdale and worked on the B2 Bomber at AF Plant 42, I can say with the exception of the SR-71 display there's nothing aviation or space related on exhibit. The picture don't lie...it's hot desert sun and sand out there. The shuttle would be better served and preserved at the LA Science Museum or sent to the Cosmosphere.

GACspaceguy
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posted 06-23-2006 11:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe that this situation is unlike the SR-71, Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo vehicles. There are only three Shuttle Orbiters to be displayed therefore they need to go to high traffic areas. With that in mind one should go to KSC, one to JSC and the other to the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy facility at Dulles. The Enterprise could then be relocated to Palmdale if there is some value of setting it out in an area that only folks like us would go out of the way to see.

Let's face it how many of the folks here on collectSPACE have been see to the Gemini III spacecraft at the Grissom Memorial in Mitchell, Indiana or the Freedom 7 on display at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis MD? We intentionally go looking for these exhibits and neither is well attended. The general masses should have an opportunity to see Orbiters that have been in space and have been the workhorse of the space program, in places where the space program is on display, not in some area where you have to go looking for it. KSC, JSC and the Smithsonian are those places.

Space/aviation has been my life and my career. I am more than taken aback when I see something I have designed or worked on at a major space/aviation museum than here at the manufacturing plant or even locally. To me it says "this was important and you need too come look at it", not "find me if you can". I would think if polled, the folks at Palmdale would agree.

Aztecdoug
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posted 06-23-2006 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GACspaceguy:
The general masses should have an opportunity to see Orbiters that have been in space and have been the workhorse of the space program, in places where the space program is on display, not in some area where you have to go looking for it.

Sounds like Disneyland's Tomorrowland in Anaheim fits the bill.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-15-2006 08:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Assemblywoman Sharon Runner release (Aug. 10, 2006)
Today, Assemblywoman Sharon Runner's (R-Lancaster) joint resolution requesting Palmdale, California as the new home of the retired Orbiter Atlantis passed the Legislature. After passing its final stage on the Senate Floor unanimously, the resolution will now be transmitted as an official request to the President and leaders of Congress.

"This is exciting news," Runner said. "The overwhelming bi-partisan support for making Palmdale the final resting place for Atlantis is tremendous. It truly shows California's acknowledgement that the Antelope Valley plays a critical role in the aerospace industry."

Space Shuttle Atlantis carried out 21 space flights, including the Galileo planetary explorer mission in 1989. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced its intentions to stand down or inactivate the Orbiter Atlantis following mission STS-126, which is presently scheduled for April 2008.

Palmdale is where every orbiter, Enterprise through Endeavour, was assembled and tested, including Atlantis; the facility continues to support the Space Shuttle Program with hardware fabrication and repair. Runner's Assembly Joint Resolution 52 calls for public display of Atlantis at a designated museum, which the Palmdale facility could easily assist with.

"The men and women of Plant 42 have a long history of dedication to the Space Shuttle Program," said Runner. "Retiring the Atlantis in Palmdale will allow the hard working folks at Plant 42 to finish the great work they started when Atlantis was first assembled."

AJR 52 will now go to President Bush and Congress.

MrSpace86
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posted 08-15-2006 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wish I could vote against it. I doubt many people will actually make that trip through the desert to see an orbiter.

KSCartist
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posted 08-16-2006 07:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I certainly don't blame the folks who want a flown orbiter in Palmdale for trying, if they get one it will be Enterprise, the first one they built and rolled out.

John McGauley
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posted 08-16-2006 03:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John McGauley   Click Here to Email John McGauley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know if Enterprise is still in good enough condition mechanically for a ferry flight back to Palmdale? If they wanted to swap orbiters at Udvar-Hazy for a flown vehicle, could they move Enterprise to an alternate location?

space4u
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posted 04-20-2008 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for space4u   Click Here to Email space4u     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's an article about Palmdale wanting to have their own space shuttle museum. One wonders how many years post-retirement of the shuttle will the display areas of the shuttles themselves be settled?

LA Daily News: Shuttle museum on track

To showcase the role of Palmdale and the Antelope Valley in America's manned space program, city officials want to establish a space shuttle museum.

The space shuttle fleet is slated to be retired in 2010, and the city wants to provide a home to one of the orbiters near Air Force Plant 42, where all six shuttles were built.

"We are working to bring one home to where they were built," Mayor Jim Ledford said. "There's only four of them. We would take any one."

As part of the effort, the City Council on Wednesday approved an application to acquire space shuttle artifacts warehoused at Plant 42. Items include shuttle insignia designs, flags flown in space signed by astronauts, and an escape module, Ledford said.

The city also has discussed its plans with officials at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, which displays Enterprise, the first shuttle built for testing purposes, at a museum center in suburban Virginia.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-30-2008 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Orlando Sentinel: Space shuttle's birthplace is getting demolished
According to an article published this week on an internal Boeing Company website, the six-story maintenance stand once used to build and repair the orbiters at Palmdale, California, was demolished on July 14.

The article said that the stand was destroyed as efforts to dispose of surplus shuttle equipment and facilities around the country are stepped up.

Boeing photographs show heavy machinery turning the giant metal stand into a pile of metal scrap. It looks like the remnants of an old Erector set spilled onto the floor.

"The demolition of such a large, nearly iconic, piece of Orbiter build and modifications history sends the message that we are moving towards retiring the Space Shuttle and related facilities and equipment," Al Hoffman, Boeing director of proprietary operations for Palmdale/Edwards Air Force Base, said.

According to Boeing, about 1.4 million pounds of "original manufacturing and assembly tooling" equipment stored at Palmdale have been destroyed. A few pieces -- like the Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle capsule, an early simulator for a cockpit ejection system -- were donated to Palmdale. Space Shuttle Columbia included this ejection system for the first few missions, but it was later removed.

The article said that the maintenance tower, called the Space Shuttle Orbiter Aft "513" work stand, was moved from the orbiter hangar in Building 150, where it was in storage, to an outside area for destruction.

"It's a bit sad to many of us here to see this work stand go to scrap, but everyone remains focused on flying our final mission safer than those preceding," Hoffman said.

Boeing spokesman Ed Memi, who authored of the story, said that Boeing had originally wanted to give the stand to the city of Palmdale, which is interested in building a museum to the space shuttles. But the stand was just too big, he said.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Building 150 where the orbiters were assembled and repaired and the Orbiter Lifting Fixture are being considered for listing in the National or State Register of Historic Places.

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