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NASA Moved The Shuttle's 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night

How do you go about moving one of the world's largest planes through city streets? It takes a thousand-foot convoy of self-propelled trailers, and a legion of police and utility crews to move light poles, power lines and traffic signals along the 8-mile route over the course of two nights.

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Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night

Photo by @NASA_Johnson on Twitter

When NASA decided Houston would not receive an actual Space Shuttle, they managed to infuriate the city that had helped build and support the agency for five decades. Space Shuttle Atlantis was kept in Florida at Kennedy Space Center. Discovery went to the Steven F. Udvar Hazy National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia. Los Angeles got Space Shuttle Endeavour. It upset me too, as I grew up near NASA's Johnson Space Center. I went to school with Astronaut's kids, and several of my friends' parents were employed by NASA or their contractors. I drove past the Space Center almost daily, seeing the massive Saturn V rocket displayed among others outside. After I moved away, Space Center Houston brought the Saturn V indoors to a protected environment.

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Boeing's Aircraft On Ground (AOG) Team worked for about six weeks at Houston's Ellington Field to carefully remove the 747-SCA's wings, tail and horizontal stabilizer. This mission was a first for the AOG team, as they had never purposefully dismantled an aircraft with the intent of reassembling it at a later date.

Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night

Photo by AeroIcarus on Flickr [Creative Commons commercial license]

N905NA is a Boeing 747-100 that began her life with American Airlines in 1970. NASA acquired the plane in 1974 and was initially used by NASA Dryden (now called NASA Armstrong) for studies in wake vortex effects. Boeing modified the plane in 1976 to begin carrying the prototype Space Shuttle Enterprise. The Enterprise was released from the 747 mounts and then flown as a glider in tests in 1977. It was never launched into space, so I like to say NYC's "Space Shuttle" isn't really a Shuttle. Plus, it looks way out of place on top of the USS Intrepid Aircraft Carrier, but I digress.

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Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night

N905NA on her final mission, carrying Endeavour to her new home in Los Angeles in 2012. Photo by Dylan Ashe on Flickr [Creative Commons commercial license]

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Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night

Rendering of the completed 747-SCA & Shuttle exhibit. [NASA.gov]

Houston did receive a handsome consolation prize in lieu of not getting an authentic Space Shuttle. Once the plane is reassembled at Space Center Houston, the mock-up Shuttle Independence will be mounted on its back, creating a one of a kind, 8-story tall interactive exhibit at a cost of $12 million.

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Now, check out some more photos from this incredible move.

Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night
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Photo by @NASA_Johnson on Twitter

Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night
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Photo by @vr_doug on Twitter

Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night
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Photo by @DisasterPIO on Twitter

Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night
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Photo by @NASA_Johnson on Twitter

Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night
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Photo by @collectSPACE on Twitter

Illustration for article titled NASA Moved The Shuttles 747 Through The Streets Of Houston Last Night
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Photo by @collectSPACE on Twitter

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DISCUSSION

devils-rotary
The Devil Drives a Mustang (Rotary Pending)

Los Angeles got Space Shuttle Endeavour. That's the one that made us mad.

Actually, for me as a Texan, the one that irritated me was New York City. OK, KSC getting one and the Smithsonian getting one were obvious. And I can actually understand LA. The Space Shuttles really are just tourist draws now, and there are a lot of Americans living on the West Coast. Putting one in LA gives a lot of citizens the chance to view the Space Shuttle without flying thousands of miles. Plus it's a small hat tip to the aerospace industry that helped build the Space Shuttle that was formerly so heavily located in Southern California. So I can understand LA. But New York City? (I typed that last sentence in the accent of the Pace hot sauce commercial) I know that a lot of people live in New York, but the good citizens of New York are a 90 minute train ride from Washington. There already is a Space Shuttle on the East coast. Not only does Houston have a strong connection to the space program, but it helps even out access to the Space Shuttles across the country. Sorry, but New York City never made sense to me.