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Space Shuttle Discovery Takes One Giant Leap… into History

August 28, 2013
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Space Shuttle Discovery

When the last Space Shuttle Orbiter completes its mission in summer 2011, it will be the end of an era that began with the construction of ballistic missiles over 60 years ago.

To help mark the Space Shuttle program’s place in history, NASA has offered Space Shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum for public display and preservation.  Space Shuttle Discovery first flew into space August 30, 1984. It’s last flight ended on March 9, 2011 after 365 days in space. In the last 27 years, Discovery has flown 39 successful missions one full year (365 days) in space. It’s best known for launching the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

As well, NASA has asked the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) division of the National Park Service (NPS) to produce measured and interpretive drawings of the Discovery manned Orbiter, the Space Shuttle Main Engines, the External Tank and the Solid Rocket Boosters as part of a larger team effort that includes written historical and descriptive data and large-format photography.

An NPS spokesman said, “The fundamental goal of the collection is to have tangible, archivally stable documents intended to survive hundreds of years with minimal maintenance. In addition, the documentation has to be clear, concise, legible, verifiable and reproducible.”

All HABS/HAER/HALS documentation is produced on materials that have an archival stability for a minimum of 200 years. Digital reproductions of the documentation are created to make the collection available to the general public via the Internet, but all archival data must be in a stable, physical form.

Space Shuttle Discovery

SmartGeoMetrics, in an effort to provide the NPS with the latest technology, utilized a combination of high-end 3D laser scanners and HDR panoramic photography to capture 3D imagery of the entire interior and exterior of Space Shuttle Discovery as it was prepared for retirement in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) located at Kennedy Space Center. They also captured 3D data of the Space Shuttle Main Engines reusable liquid fuel rocket engines located in a separate building. NPS notes that laser scanning is changing the way the agency conducts field work and creates the documentation to meet defined standards.

The story would highlight a brief history of Discovery, the historic recordation process, laser scanning methodology, accuracy requirements, challenges that occurred during the week long data gathering particularly in rarely seen areas such as the Orbiter’s Cargo Bay, and final print and digital products that will be provided to the Library of Congress.

OPF High Bay Panoramas – DRAFTS

  1. HDR – Payload Bay from Platform 15 Left
  2. HDR – Forward Landing Gear
  3. HDR – Tail and Rudder from Platform 16 Right
  4. STD – Flight Deck Center
  5. STD – Payload Bay – AFT
  6. STD – Payload Bay – FORWARD
  7. STD – SSME Horizontal Processing

Point Cloud Images-

  1. Screen Shots of Raw Scan Data

For more information or press inquiries, please contact Travis Reinke.

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