B Pad Construction Photos - Space Shuttle - Page 23


OAA Lift 3

Forum commentary here:


Orbiter Access Arm Lift 3

Fastening the OAA to the FSS using outrageously expensive aircraft bolts that cost us a bundle, and did not make a lick of sense, as the structure upon which the OAA was fastened to, was itself assembled with plain old garden-variety A-325 high-strength structural bolts, and they seemed to be holding all of the rest of the tower together just fine without any help from the aircraft industry. Some of those bolts (just the bolt, not the nut or washer) cost upwards of a hundred bucks apiece(!) and this was back in the 80's when a hundred bucks was actually worth a little something.

Oh well.

Top left photo is Wade Ivey (white hard-hat facing camera) and his son Kevin (brown hard-hat facing camera) on the OAA Lower Hinge Access Platform. I'm not sure about Wade, but I think Kevin is still running Ivey Construction.

These are the guys who build the launch pads, in case you were wondering.


Additional commentary below the image.

Top Left:

As one of their ironworkers goes about the business of finishing off the installation of the (pointlessly, needlessly, and ridiculously, expensive) bolts that attaches the lower OAA hinge to the FSS, Wade Ivey (right), and his son Kevin (center), turn, take just a few seconds from the never-ending focus required to watch over things and keep them going, and give me a pleasant look as I aim at them with the camera from what appears to be the vantage point of the OAA Latchback access platform that can just barely be picked out of the welter of steel framing, just to the right and below the round framing of the top hinge access platform on the hinge column, and is partly obscured by the red latticework of the crane boom, when you zoom way the hell in on things at high magnification in this picture. Just another one of those nondescript little platforms that both towers were just riddled with. Zoom in close on any of the large "overview" images and start looking around for these things and you'll start discovering them everywhere. Most folks have no idea the extent to which there are little walkways, mezzanine-level landings, stairs, caged-ladders, platforms, steel bar grating, handrails, safety chains, and support framing all over the place on both towers. The place was a deeply-complex labyrinth, in every sense of the word. And I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I did not very much enjoy knowing the whole thing like the back of my hand.

Getting shots of people with any kind of pleasant look on their faces out on this job was a highly difficult thing to do, and I take pride in having gotten as many of them as I did.

In a culture such as this one, nobody wants to "pose" or be seen as anything other than a no-nonsense agent of getting the work done, and anything that so much as smelled of anything else was generally attacked, derided, and otherwise frowned upon deeply by all of the participants.

But every once in a while, I found myself sufficiently able to charm a person or two into a kindly look or an actual smile, and when those rare moments came along, unexpectedly for the most part, I seized them instantly, hit the shutter release, and hoped that the goddamned resulting image would come out.

As I've said earlier, it's always better to be lucky than smart, right?

Top Right:

As viewed from the vantage point of the IAA, we can see ironworkers going at it on both hinges, securing the OAA to the FSS.


Looking down on things from, I think, the lower Gox Arm hinge access platform.

One of the problems with taking pictures of this work consisted in choosing the right place to take the picture from.

There were just too damn many of them, and time was always short, and nothing ever stood still, and the place was big enough that it could take a respectable bit of time to get from here to there, and if here didn't give you the good angle you thought it would, then you could only hope that you could get there before whatever it was that you were trying to get a shot of disappeared forever.

And I was utterly on my own with this stuff.

Nobody else gave a shit about any of what I was doing with the camera. Not one single person. Which might tell us a little bit about the people you may expect to encounter in places like this, too.

This is another one of those shots that I really like. It gives you a really good look at the layout of the OAA, and as seen here, it is in its fully-extended position.

Notice, if you will, that the white room on the end of the OAA isn't quite properly rectangular. Instead, it's a right-trapezoid (ignoring the bit where it narrows down some on the Space Shuttle side of things), and the angle of the side of the room that connects to the rest of the OAA differs from the angle of its opposite side, which directly abuts the Space Shuttle when the arm is extended. This is because the OAA hinges are not attached to the FSS directly straight across from the crew hatch on the orbiter, and the arm, as a result, meets the orbiter at a noticeable angle. The arm never quite extends ninety full degrees when it's being extended. It meets the Shuttle before it ever gets that far, and as a result, the far end of the white room away from the FSS sits at a different angle to the near end, in order to allow it to properly and closely match the angle of the orbiter crew cabin where it's doing its work.

Little stuff. I never grow tired of learning about the little stuff.

The OAA latchback access platform that I took the picture (top left image on this page) of Wade and Kevin from, can be seen plainly, extending down from along the top right margin of this picture, to the right of the crane boom. You can also see the support skid upon which the OAA would come to rest in its retracted position, where it would be latched back to the main structure when not in use, to keep it from getting knocked around too much by either rough weather (this is hurricane country, remember), or the exhaust plume from the Space Shuttle when it took off.

And we're getting a pretty good look at the bottom of the flame trench, past the toe of the flame deflector, two-hundred some-odd feet below you, too.

Now stop a minute, and consider that group of women and men, boots clanking across the steel bar grating panels, walking out along this flimsy-looking open-air bridge across a yawning gulf of over fifty meters, preparing to enter a gigantic hissing fuming living thing, possessed of the energy of a small atomic bomb, entrusting their lives to it, getting ready to ride it as if they were riding a fire-breathing dragon, permitting it to take them to a place with no air to breathe, ten times faster than a rifle bullet, with no way out should things go badly wrong.

Really? Is this really what you guys are getting ready to do today?

Like I said earlier, the OAA has the power to make you stop. And think. And consider. And maybe shiver a little bit, too.

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