NASA, Orbital ATK provide boosters for Endeavour exhibit
Not everyone had the chance to see the Space Shuttle fully stacked with its external tank and SRBs; those that have usually came away awestruck at the power and size of the vehicle. Soon, guests who visit the California Science Center will have the opportunity to walk away with similar feelings, and it’s partly thanks to the efforts of NASA and Orbital ATK.
The California Science Center was awarded stewardship of OV-105, Space Shuttle Endeavour, in 2012. The museum received External Tank 94 (ET-94) from the space agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) located in Louisiana in 2015. Now, Orbital ATK has donated two Solid Rocket Boosters to complete the set.
“The various cases in the two boosters donated to the California Science Center were manufactured over a period of 30 years in Promontory, Utah, and, as reusable rocket motors, they flew on more than 80 Space Shuttle flights and were included in 32 ground tests,” Brian Duffy, vice president, Human Exploration, Propulsion Systems Division of Orbital ATK told SpaceFlight Insider.
Endeavour itself conducted some 25 voyages to low-Earth orbit (LEO), during which her crews deployed three satellites, traveled to the Russian space station Mir, as well as 12 flights to the International Space Station.
“This donation will be part of the only fully stacked Space Shuttle exhibit in the world, with the orbiter, boosters, and external tank,” Duffy said. “That will truly be a sight to behold – just like walking up to the shuttle, ready to launch on the pad at Kennedy Space Center.”
The two SRBs have proud histories themselves. According to Orbital ATK, segments of the solid boosters were used on STS-6 (the first space shuttle spacewalk), STS-60 (the first flight of a Russian cosmonaut on one of NASA’s shuttle orbiters), STS-95 (the mission that saw U.S. space legend John Glenn return to space), and more. It was a legacy that former Space Shuttle astronaut Charlie Precourt noted in a release issued by the company.
In fact, the two boosters’ segments supported some 74 shuttle missions and 32 ground tests with only one case being new.
“We take great pride in our 30-plus years of participation in the Space Shuttle Program,” Precourt said. “We’re pleased and honored that we can contribute hardware to this amazing exhibit at the California Science Center.”
If everything goes as it is currently planned, the new Endeavour exhibit will open in 2019 in the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
“As for the non-motor parts of the booster, we sourced a set of flight-worthy aft skirts and frustums from NASA surplus and a set of forward skirts that were used for tests for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program that are currently in Utah at Orbital ATK,” said Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center Project Director Dennis Jenkins. “Orbital ATK and NASA are providing most of the smaller parts, like booster separation motors, from surplus.”
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.