B Pad Construction Photos - Space Shuttle - Page 13


PGHM Bridge Beam Lift, Page 2

Forum commentary here:


PGHM Bridge Beam Lift, page 2

Ok then, on this page you can see how they're going about it. Lift it up, get it in the PCR Doors opening, and then just kind of suck it on up in there at an angle. Imagine somehow getting your automobile into the hall closet, without so much as scratching the car or any portion of the entire house, and you've kind of got an idea of what was involved here. Except, of course, the floor of your house isn't suspended eighty feet in the air, and your automobile isn't fifty feet long and doesn't weigh twenty tons, or whatever the PGHM bridge beam actually weighed.


Additional commentary below the image.

Top Left:

Ok, the top of the bridge beam is closing in on the lower edge of the opening to the Payload Changeout Room. The PCR Doors, which, as is so much else out here, are ridiculously outsize, standing sixty-five or seventy feet tall, are folded inside and completely out of the way, and we can see some fairly good detail inside of the PCR itself. Time to zoom way the hell in on the full-size image. Give it 400 percent. It'll be a little blurry at that magnification, but you'll be able to see and distinguish things I'll be talking about that you might not otherwise be able to, ok?

There's a couple of ironworkers standing there, right on the edge of the 135' PCR floor steel, possibly (but I hope not) on the top edge of one of the hateful OMS Pod heated purge covers, ready to grab hold of the bridge beam as it slowly, ever so slowly, continues to creep upward and inward. The guy on the left is mostly blocked from view by the post on the top right corner of the bridge beam, but you can see his white hard hat clearly, as well as his left arm, hands on his hips, or, more likely, hands in his jacket pockets. The other guy to the right of him is in plain view. And please notice how the bridge beam has regained all of its previous size and mass, now that there's a couple of people back in the frame with it. Weird, huh? And, now that I'm mentioning this effect again, presuming you're still zoomed in somewhere around 400 percent and this image is completely filling your screen, also please notice just how much the RSS has swelled in size too, with this pair of ant-like ironworkers there, smack-dab in the middle of things, to give you some proper perspective on things. Do you want to hear me talk about how fucking big that RSS is? No? Ok, I'll give it a rest. For now, anyway.

Above and behind our ironworkers, the interior of the PCR has come into fairly good view, and now you can see pretty clearly that it's not an open space in there at all, but is instead filled up with the interior platforms. There's five levels of those platforms in there, crowding toward the center on both sides, and yet somehow this bridge beam is going to be threaded in, above them, and laid sideways just beneath the ceiling of the PCR, with a clear span that's as wide as the entirety of the whole platforms set system, space between them and all, abovewhich it will finally come to rest horizontally, with stupidly tight clearances, all along, all the way around, all the way to the end of the line. I can only imagine some of the conversations between Wade and Rink as they measured, walked, looked, considered, measured some more, walked some more, looked some more, considered some more, and finally decided that yes, yes we can do this, but it's going to be close! We're talking real money here in crane time and ironworker time, not to mention possible backcharges from any of the other craft labor who had to be shooed away, out of the area, while this lift was in progress, if this lift had turned out to be impossible, and the goddamned bridge beam had to be sucked back out of the PCR and laid back down on the ground, to try and figure out how to get the sonofabitch back in there, some different way. But it all worked out right the first time, and stands as yet one more reminder of the stratospheric level of talent and confidence required to get this work done, by all parties concerned.

Top Right:

Look close, and you can see that our crane operator has boomed down some, despite the fact that there's a whole world of unyielding iron up there out of frame, all around the boom of his crane at very close quarters, and as he's booming down (which is of course bringing both the jib line and the main hoist line closer and closer to the envelope of the RSS), he's coming up on his lines, to keep the bridge beam either at the same level, or to continue to gain elevation with it, and if that's not enough, the jib line has to come up just a trifle less than the main hoist line, because he's also by now right in the middle of leveling the bridge beam just a little, to get it inside of that goddamned PCR at just the right angle, and godDAMN this is some ticklish fucking work the guy's doing right now! Meanwhile, back in a world solely populated by much lesser mortals, you can't even handle parallel-parking your own fucking car.

And since I don't know where else to bring it up, I'm now going to direct your attention (still nice and zoomed in, yes?) to the innocently-named "MLP access stairs."

Cast your gaze downward, directly below the bottom end of the bridge beam, until you run out of steel and start seeing nice blue sky down there. Hmmm... looking down to see the sky. Boy... I dunno. Anyway, there's some steel sticking down and to the left against the background of that pretty blue sky down there, and that steel is a stairway, and you can walk right on down to the bottom riser if you want to, but I wouldn't recommend it, because there's nothing there to step on to at the bottom of that stair other than a direct free-fall drop of fifty feet through thinnest air down on to the hard and uncaring concrete surface of the pad deck.

Welcome to the MLP access stairs. There's two of 'em, one on either side of the RSS, but you can't see the other one in this image, 'cause it's out of frame to the right.

What the fuck?

Well, the RSS moves, right? And when it's rotated around into the mate position, these stairs would then be located directly above the yawning gulf of the flame trench, which still doesn't seem to make any kind of sense, except for the fact that the RSS is almost never swung around into the mate position unless the MLP has been rolled out, with or without a Space Shuttle sitting on top of it, and parked on its support pedestals, and when the MLP is sitting there, this stair no longer goes to nowhere, but instead permits you to step sweetly down on to the half-acre extent of the MLP deck as though you were coming off of the last step from your upstairs bedrooms area down onto the floor in your living room.

But when the MLP's not there, or when the RSS is in the de-mate position..... it becomes a little more interesting.

These stairs have a couple of surprisingly-flimsy little hinged "safety" gate affairs (we furnished and installed 'em exactly as instructed per the approved plans and specifications) at their top and bottom landings, but never in my life would I so much as dream of putting any actual weight against them, and really, that wouldn't even be required to give yourself a dire problem anyway, 'cause if you took a poorly-chosen location to stumble and fall on the stair, you'd just keep going, right on through, underneath the gate, and off into the oblivion waiting patiently below.

But it was fun to walk down to the bottom of those stairs, and I did so far more often than mere work dictates would have indicated, and it's kind of cozy down there with the great dark looming canopy of the RSS up above you, and a really nice view all the way out to the ocean and all around the pad area itself.

Why these stairs weren't designed as retractable with perhaps a hinge on their top connection to the main platform framing at the 112' elevation which would allow them to simply be retracted up into the flooring of the RSS and locked into place, and by so doing completely block the opening, I'll never know. I'm sure they had a reason, but I'm equally sure I'll never know why. Maybe it was to keep from bumping somebody who was mindlessly walking around on the MLP deck on their head or something, when they lowered the stairs.

Who knows?

Bottom Left:

And now we're going on in, for real and for true. From this point forward, the margin for error has been reduced to zero.

From here on out, if anything goes wrong, people get hurt, people get killed, equipment gets damaged, equipment gets destroyed, or any unpleasant combination of the above that you might be so unfortunate as to suffer. We're playing for keepsies now, kids.

And of course nobody on the jobsite bats an eye at any of it. It's all in a day's work for these guys.

Bottom Right:

And by now the main hoist line is more or less even with the plane of the opening in the RSS, which means that the jib is already inside of the RSS.

The far end of the bridge beam is now in very close proximity to the PCR interior platforms, and is being worked into place from inside the dim reaches of the PCR now, by our crew of ironworkers, as well as continuing to be worked by the phenomenally-skilled hands of the crane operator, who can no longer even see what the hell's going on in there.

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