Spaceflight Insider

NASA’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft prepares for new role

Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Mike Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

HOUSTON, Tex, — December 18th marks the first anniversary of the final flight of one of the most recognizable aircraft in aviation history.  The iconic NASA 905, a modified Boeing 747-100 which for more than three decades ferried the space shuttle orbiters, along with the flight test article of the orbiter, Enterprise – made her final victory lap around Houston on December 18, 2012 before being decommissioned and handed over in preparation for a new, stunning display at Space Center Houston.

The NASA 905 SCA was delivered to NASA in July of 1974 after nearly three years of service with American Airlines.  Working initially as a test bed for wake vortex research, 905 went on to serve as the mothership for the historic Approach & Landing Test program of 1977, during which test shuttle Enterprise demonstrated the lifting characteristic and landing capabilities of the orbiter design.

NASA 905 delivered four of the five space-flown orbiters to Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the late 1970s through mid-1980s and often returned them home after some missions ended in California.  With the Space Shuttle Program completed in 2011, the mighty 747 hauled orbiters Discovery, Enterprise and Endeavour to their final retirement sites around the nation after their decommissioning in 2012.

With her mission complete, NASA 905 now becomes an instrument of inspiration.  She will bear the weight of Independence, a hi-fidelity mockup, which guests can tour when the exhibit opens at Space Center Houston in February of 2015.  Independence, once named Explorer, was delivered to Space Center Houston last year after spending 18 years at Kennedy Space Center and has been refurbished for its new role.


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Moeller graduated from Texas Tech University's College of Architecture in 2008 and completed the graduate program in 2011. He covered the refueling stop of space shuttle Discovery at Rick Husband International Airport in 2009 after the orbiter had completed its mission to the International Space Station. Moeller also covered the build up to launch shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-132 in 2010 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Moeller joined Max Q Entertainment in 2009, leading the development of the website as well as document production streamlining, graphics work and aiding video production for missions STS-125 onward.

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