B Pad Construction Photos - Space Shuttle - Page 31


FSS/RSS Panorama from end of Hammerhead Crane, Stairs of Doom

Forum commentary here:


Panorama shot of the FSS & RSS taken from the end of the boom on the Hammerhead Crane. Look close, and you can see a guy against the handrail on the FSS, contemplating the drop beneath him.

Stairs of Doom To Nowhere. This shot was taken from the right-hand stairway, below the 112 level of the RSS, looking back toward the RSS Hinge Column and the foot of the FSS. These stairways go all the way down to the 100 elevation. Only problem being, is that beneath the bottom riser, it's just air between you and the concrete down there. When the RSS is in the demate position, you stay the hell away from these stairs (even though they do have gates that have to be opened at their tops and their bottoms) and if there's no MLP parked over the flame trench, you do the same when the RSS is in the mate position. But when the MLP is there, you just step off onto it as if you were stepping onto your living room floor after coming down the stairs from your bedroom. This sort of thing can be alarmingly disorienting every once in a while, and you have to mind where you're at. Something as enormous as the RSS just does not register in the human brain as being as mobile as it is. You just assume anything that big and solid will remain wherever it is that you're used to it being. But it doesn't. Once in a while, it's somewhere else, and things are different, and you'd best mind your step. Distractedly walking around with a clipboard in one hand, and an F-sized drawing flapping around in the other, considering how you're going to get out of the hundred-thousand dollar hole you're in, only serves to make things worse, and once in a great while you'll catch yourself, whistle under your breath, and hope nobody saw you, and then get back where you belong.


Additional commentary below the image.


This is a really good shot of the RSS and FSS, taken from a marvelous perspective out on the end of the Hammerhead Crane, and I kind of wonder why I did not give it any more words in the forum post above, than I did.

The red FSS tells us that this would be some time in the early 1980's, during my Sheffield Steel days, and the lack of further structural, mechanical, and electrical encrustations on both towers affords us a view of things that would later on be utterly blocked from view, as the growing labyrinth of steel became more and more dense, complex, and ramified. The ET Access Guide Columns System and Orbiter Weather Protection are nowhere to be seen, muddying up the look of the RSS. No OMBUU, either. Over on the FSS, no Orbiter Access Arm, no GOX arm, no hinge boxes, no latchbacks, no Intertank Access Arm, no Centaur Porch. The cleanliness of the view is refreshing.

As a result, we're getting ourselves a pretty good look at the Hinge Column from above and to the side, with its two massive thrust bearings and vertically stacked array of circular crossover and access platforms, in this image.

The lighting alone is worth more than just a few words, and gives everything a crisp clear look that really allows for a leisurely going-over of things at high zoom levels. The angle of the low sunlight, casting shadows across the edges of the flat north-south oriented surfaces of the FSS, speaks of late fall or early winter, and you can almost feel the cool crisp cut of the morning air.

You really get a good feel for the complexity of the structure itself, covered with cable trays that snake around here and there, and a plethora of catwalks and platforms that zigzag with angular precision, sharing space with no end of strongbacks, struts, gusset plates and brackets, supports and braces, with the main structural elements underneath it all, stoically bearing their crushing loads, and the whole thing kind of speaks to you as a symphony of steel in ways that very few of my other shots managed to. Yeah, I like this picture.

On the FSS, up at the 220' level, a gentleman in a white hard hat stands at the handrail, casting a long morning shadow behind him across the checkerplate and grating, looking more or less directly down, contemplating the fearsome void that yawns implacably, just beyond the toes of his shoes.

On the ground, over two-hundred and fifty vertical feet beneath you, all the way across, almost hidden from view by the intervening body of the Payload Changeout Room, over at the far end of things on the Column Line 7 side of the RSS, I count no less than six people, possibly more, gathered in two small groups, one working, and one standing and discussing something, near the forward RSS Truck Drive with its little cab sitting up above the curved rail that the RSS rolls on.

Above them, from this perspective, almost hidden in the mouth of the PCR, down low, not too far above the 135' level, someone in an orange hard hat and dark shirt or jacket is leaning back, away from the PCR, at what appears to be a dangerous angle in a spider basket, but I'm sure they're all nice and tied in and have nothing to worry about concerning the drop beneath them.

At the very top of the panorama, with a dark opening partially obscured by a couple of snaking cable trays, the Hoist Equipment Room awaits the installation of the big drum which will reel up the 24-part line that will raise and lower the hook on the 90-ton Payload Cannister Hoist. To its left, the bottom half of the RCS Room, with its large front-facing roll-up door in the "up" position, is visible awaiting its own coming installations of piping and miscellaneous equipment which will eventually be handling the highly poisonous and brutally corrosive hypergolic fuel for the Forward Reaction Control System thrusters that are located in the nose of the Space Shuttle, forward and below the cockpit windows.

Open areas of white insulated metal panels, gray checkerplate and steel bar grating, a forest of light fixtures on poles, a bit of ducting and bright red firex piping, and no end of handrail completes the picture.

Yeah, I like this picture. I like this picture a lot.


Have I already talked about the "Stairs of Doom" enough?


My forum comments above, claim that "This shot was taken from the right-hand stairway, below the 112 level of the RSS" and that is just flat-out wrong. I must have been in a hurry or something when I wrote that commentary. Not only did I fail to give the upper image its proper due, but I followed that up by giving patently wrong information about the lower image.

This picture cannot possibly have been taken from "the right-hand stairway." There were only two of these stairs, and they're both visible in this image, the dark stringer of the far one directly above the well-illuminated top handrail line of the near one, and the both of them vertically lined up perfectly with each other at their lowest risers and terminal handrail posts. Also, a close look at the nearest stair shows that no safety gate has yet been installed on it, and I do not recall whether or not any safety chain might have been strung across the opening in the handrail, hanging from pad eyes, down at the bottom. This thing might have been wide-open down there.

So ok. So I was definitely wrong, and I'm very happy (and very lucky, too) that fate has brought me back this way once again, for another, closer, look at things, that I might rectify my mistake. And, now that I've looked again, it becomes clear that I was on the Column Line 7 stair tower, when I looked over, considered the view, placed myself with care, and put my little camera to work capturing it.

Really a good view of the stairs, though.

And I'd be lying through my teeth if I said I did not like going down to the bottom riser of them occasionally, too.

I liked doing that a lot for whatever reasons, but mostly because the sensations down there were... shall we say, heightened, and the place was just beautiful in an uncanny and indescribable way with a clear view of the ocean and the surrounding wilderness reaching off into the far hazy distances from beneath the dark brooding immensity of the RSS, and I did so whenever the occasion would permit, and occasionally even when it would not.

Farther away, beyond the closest Stair of Doom, near the top right of this frame, a float hangs from its ropes, above the open nothingness beneath the steel framing near the orbiter mold line cutout on the 112' elevation, just to the left of the SSW Water Tower legs which can be seen in the middle distance beyond the North Piping Bridge, SSW Headers, MLP Mount Pedestals, and MLP Access Stairs, all of which are over on the far side of the Flame Trench as seen from this perspective.

Down on the pad deck, right in front of the base of the FSS, someone in a white hard hat is knelt over, working on something unknowable.

Zoom in. Wander around. There's plenty here to see and ponder.

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