B Pad Construction Photos - Space Shuttle - Page 6


GOX Arm Strongback Lift 2

Forum commentary here:


FSS Swingarm Strongback lift.

Ok, here's page two of three, detailing this lift.

Something that shows fairly well in this series (Yet again, and now that I start thinking about it, I really was pretty good with the fucking angles on a lot of these photographs, wasn't I?) is the scale of things out on the pad. In the previous image (FSS Swingarm Strongback Lift 1.jpg), the lower right photograph gives a good sense of the size of this strongback, as it looms over the ironworkers on the ground beneath it. Then, in the lower left photo of this image, that same strongback is now dwarfed by the Fixed Service Structure that it's about to be bolted on to.

Everything out on the Pad is cyclopean in size, and sometimes it's hard to grasp the true depth of that.

The Space Shuttle is often times compared to an airliner, but that doesn't really give a proper sense of its size. Walk around underneath it, while it's sitting on the MLP deck, and you immediately realize that the Space Shuttle is no airliner. It's a high-rise hotel. Or maybe an ocean liner. It's BIG.

And to think it suddenly spits a volcano of fire, and proceeds to lurch directly straight up and away from all of the massive service structure that it was prepared for flight upon ....... well ....... it beggars the imagination to believe such a thing could even be possible.


Additional commentary below the image.

Top Left:

And now we're on our way up. All of the principles have departed the scene and are on their way to the upper reaches of the FSS where the strongback will be connected to it. One remaining ironworker on the ground, out of frame to the left, is on the tagline, keeping things organized with the strongback as it rises higher and higher into the air.

Zoom in, and a close look at the strongback will reveal an area of darker gray paint on the main vertical members, starting around their midpoints and continuing down a little over half the remaining distance to their bottom ends. This area of darker paint is where the gox arm hinges will be bolted on to the strongback. Go back to the bottom left photo in the image on the previous page, and you can see a very long row of bolt-holes in the flanges of the the vertical strongback truss members corresponding to this exact same area. Lotta goddamned high-strength structural bolts in that little run of holes. That fucking gox arm ain't going nowhere once all this bolting and fastening is done. NOwhere.

Zoom in even more and then give the mare's nest of framing, piping, handrail, platforms, and god-knows-what-else over on the left, behind, above and below the tagline, some closer scrutiny, and I'll help you out with some of that stuff, ok?

It's hard to see clearly, but there's a large vertical pipe with a distinctive black band painted around it about six or eight feet above the pad deck, and it goes up into a platform deck supported on light columns with even lighter X-bracing between them, and a run of the ever-present handrail they put on everything defining the edges of that smallish platform. Look close, and you'll see that the pipe goes right through that platform, and comes out above it for an additional four feet or so (all standard handrail is 3'-6" in height, and works well for estimating the size of things wherever it's found, so that's kind of nice) slightly larger in diameter. This pipe is part of the SSW supply to the MLP (Mobile Launch Platform), and when the MLP is parked here, they make a connection between the top of this pipe stub and a matching piece on the underside of the MLP, to provide water to all of the spray headers and SSW what-have-you on the MLP itself.

Straight up from that, and you get a whole slew of funny-looking little platforms. These are all flip-up platforms, and launch pads are swarming with them, everywhere you go. By now, we've learned that damn near everything on a launch pad moves around despite the fact that an awful lot of it is larger than any hotel you've ever stayed in. And the tolerances for moving your hotel (or MLP, or RSS, or whatever) around the neighborhood are pretty damn close. It's like you're driving your hotel around downtown (now just stop and think about that one for a few minutes), and for whatever reasons, you're always finding yourself having to drive your hotel right next to, but not quite touching somebody else's hotel, which itself may or may not be drivable, because the guests in both hotels need to get back and forth between them without having to take the elevator in one of them down to ground, walk across the street, get in the elevator of the other hotel, and go a couple of hundred feet up to one of the higher floors to do some goddamned thing or other. This is inconvenient, and your guests are very important people who do not have time to engage in such foolishness, so instead, you outfit your hotel with a slew of little platforms that can be folded up, out of the way, until the other guy's hotel is right there within easy spitting distance from your hotel, at which point you fold your little platforms down to bridge that small gap between the hotels, so as your guests can now, ever-so-conveniently, walk back and forth between the hotels even if they're a hundred feet or more above the goddamned street, far far below them. Voila! You have invented the flip-up platform, and you're quite the clever person, aren't you? Don't forget to remove the removable handrail before you flip your flip-up, up, or otherwise you won't be able to flip it, and you also won't be able to lock it into position in its flipped-up position, and then, after you've gone through all that hassle, be double-sure to reinstall that removable handrail when your flip-up is flipped back down, or otherwise the safety man will have a shit fit and shut the whole goddamned job down, or perhaps one of your less-aware guests, will simply go over the side, neither outcome being particularly desirable. And yeah, this paragraph was really fun to write, too.

This particular group of flip-ups provided a variety of accesses for a variety of things that may or may not have been people, to the MLP, which, if it was sitting on its support pedestals here at the pad, would be completely blocking the view of everything above that SSW supply pipe stub, just above its little access and service platform. The MLP was yet another one of those things that was just too fucking big to believe, and the fact that it rolled around across the countryside for literal miles only makes things even less believable.

Farther away, in near-perfect alignment with the left-hand column of the north piping bridge support tower, is one of the MLP mount pedestals, complete with its own little access and servicing platform. Look even closer and you'll see that the top of it, the part that's up above the little access platform, is hidden under a white covering of some sort. This end of the pedestal is a mechanical object, and is adjustable (isn't everything?), and requires protection for the machined surfaces beneath that cover. There were six of these things, three on each side of the flame trench, and they bore the entire load of the MLP, complete with a full Shuttle stack on top of it. Quite the sturdy stuff.

Top Right:

Backing away now, to keep everything in frame, and entering that wider frame on the far left is the lower portion of the hinge column, as well as another MLP mount pedestal, complete with white covering on top. That crane which looked so substantial just a little while ago is now shrinking down to toy size, and the strongback is shrinking down too, right along with it. The FSS looms menacingly nearby, and goes right on up and out of the top of the frame over there on the left side.

Those funny-looking round platforms on the hinge column (some of which with no handrail), are there for numerous purposes, and the ones without handrail are there to support flexible ducting or cabling or tubing or some goddamned thing coming across from the FSS and going over to the RSS, which, when the RSS would move, slid around on the surface of the platform, on a great big sheet of quarter-inch thick white Teflon, and let me tell you about the fun we had gluing that goddamned Teflon down to the smooth steel plate on top of the crossover platform (that's what they were called) some day. Hint: It never fucking worked, and it never fucking could have worked, and once we finally beat that little nugget of common-sense understanding into the brick-like heads of the engineers in charge of it, they finally relented and let us screw the goddamned Teflon sheets down with countersunk-head screws, and even then the miserable shit still refused to lay flat, and bowed and bent and buckled all over the place, and I'm not really sure (memory, ah fallible memory), but I think that in the end they just got rid of all of it and instead, they just beefed up the exterior surface of the cable, or the duct, or the whatever, like they should have in the beginning, where it came into contact with the crossover platform, and scraped along whenever the RSS was in motion, rotating.

I mean really, what the fuck were those idiots thinking when they spec'd out fucking Teflon of all goddamned psychotic things? Were they thinking we were going to be making a non-stick frying pan? What the fucking fuck, anyway? Where do these people come from? What planet were they born on? It can't be the same planet I was born on, that's for sure. And if you're wondering how in the name of living hell that we could have ever bid such a dopey thing in the first place, and come up with an honest cost for that portion of the work, they included a procedure with that part of the drawings, complete with approved adhesive and a demand for furnishing virgin Teflon (I wish I was kidding) and the steps you'd take to lay the adhesive down and glue the Teflon to it (I really wish I was kidding, but I'm not) so it was fairly simple and straightforward to work up the requisite man-hours do to what they were telling us to do, which made the bid all nice and realistic, and if memory serves, that "adhesive" for gluing Teflon to painted steel was some kind of runny, nasty, red stuff that got all over the fucking place, and it never had a prayer of ever working, and once we were done with that little charade, we hit 'em squarely in the ass with a change order request which they had no choice but to accept, complete with countersunk head screws and everything. In the end, the work was done, but it didn't work, but by that time we were long gone, deeply engaged in life-or-death battle with other dragons, and it was no longer any of our concern.

Bottom Left:

Damn. That fucking FSS is big.

Bottom Right:

And why not one more shot to really seal the deal when it comes to making an air-tight case for proving incontrovertibly that your photographer has lost his fucking mind?

Ok, sure. We'll just have him go and stand directly underneath a suspended load dangling free, well over a hundred feet straight and true, right above his thick bony skull, in an area where people who are working could easily drop a tool, or perhaps inadvertently kick a loose bolt over the side of things, or even the whole goddamned lift could come crashing down.

Yeah, that oughtta do it. That oughtta do it just fine.

In truth, I was terrified as I took this shot, and it's for sure as hell that nobody else ever so much as hinted that such a clearly-deranged shot should ever be taken, but there was no fucking way in hell that I was going to miss getting this shot once the opportunity presented itself.

So I grabbed the shot and got the hell out of there just as quick as my stupid goddamned legs could carry me.

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