Serious air freight project cargo: Space shuttle edition

Yesterday, the space shuttle Discovery took its final flight from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Washington, DC, area where it will go on permanent exhibition in a Smithsonian Museum.

Moving the shuttle is no small feat; it was designed to get hurled into space at thousands of miles per hour and then land on its own.  As a child, I remember all of the launches; the Challenger disaster happened when I was a freshman in high school and nearly propelled me into a career of aeronautical and astronautical engineering.  Then I made it through geometry by the skin of my teeth and came to the realization that for the safety of those around me, heavy lifting math might not be my forte.

Which makes the video below all the more amazing.  Each mission the shuttle undertook involved so many people, countless hours of preparation and had to be conducted and executed to the highest levels of perfection.  Astronauts lives were and always are at stake.  There are two grim reminders from the life of the shuttle  program about how dangerous a profession it is.

NASA moved the shuttles from their landing points around the country with a modified Boeing 747 that gave piggy back rides to the shuttle.  The precision tolerance for the bolts and getting it properly in places is only three inches.  Go ahead; grab a ruler; see how little three inches is in relation to the length of a 747.  It is no small feat of human engineering to make this happen each and every time.

We salute NASA and the people involved in the shuttle program who are now looking for new professions, either within a smaller agency or in the private sector.  Until the next round of manned space flight gets underway in earnest, we have images like this to look at and smile about.

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