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National Geographic's Snapshots

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  1. Space Shuttle Enterprise

    Snapshot Title: Space Shuttle Enterprise
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery in Museum Hangar
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The space shuttle Enterprise never flew in space. A test vehicle used for landing tests, she will be transferred via the Boeing-747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) to the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Mus...



  2. Shuttle Crew Module

    Snapshot Title: Shuttle Crew Module
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Atop Carrier Aircraft
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The crew module is not pressurized for the transportation flights. The drag and weight of the orbiter limits the range of the aircraft to 1,000 miles (1,850 km) requiring multiple refueling stops. It ...



  3. Forward Connection Point

    Snapshot Title: Forward Connection Point
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Atop Carrier Aircraft
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The orbiter attaches to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) in three points; one at the nose and one under each wing. These are the same attachment points that connected the space shuttle to the Extern...



  4. Discovery's "Beauty Mark"

    Snapshot Title: Discovery's "Beauty Mark"
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Atop Carrier Aircraft
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    One unique feature of Discovery is her unusual "beauty mark" under the forward Window Number 5. According to those who have serviced the shuttle, the black tiles likely contained instrumentation for ...



  5. American Flag

    Snapshot Title: American Flag
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Atop Carrier Aircraft
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    By law, American flags must be displayed in the direction of travel, however the wind would be blowing them. This is why the flag appears backward on the side of the shuttle.



  6. Orbiter Mount Text

    Snapshot Title: Orbiter Mount Text
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Atop Carrier Aircraft
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The humerous text on the rear orbiter mount reads:
    "Attach Orbiter Here. NOTE: Black Side Down."



  7. Aircraft Windows

    Snapshot Title: Aircraft Windows
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Atop Carrier Aircraft
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) is a Boeing-747 that served as a passenger aircraft for American Airlines in the early 1970s. The first class seats are the only passenger seating left on the interi...



  8. Mission Silhouettes

    Snapshot Title: Mission Silhouettes
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Atop Carrier Aircraft
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    These icons represent the number of transportation missions this 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft has flown since it was acquired by NASA in 1974. Not including this mission, it has transported the shuttl...



  9. "Flush" Handle

    Snapshot Title: "Flush" Handle
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Toilet
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    This handle doesn't really "flush" the space toilet but is the operating handle that initiates the solid waste disposal system and fans.



  10. Foot Holders

    Snapshot Title: Foot Holders
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Toilet
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The foot holders help keep the astronaut in place while he or she is using the toilet facility. "NO STEP IN ONE G" means it is not intended to carry weight while on the ground.



  11. Urine Hose

    Snapshot Title: Urine Hose
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Toilet
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The liquid waste vacuum tube is attached to the vacuum chamber and connected to a fan that provides suction. The end contains a detachable urine receptacle, uniquely designed for use by both men and w...



  12. "No Step"

    Snapshot Title: "No Step"
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Toilet
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    Why have a "NO STEP" sign on the back of the toilet? That sign and the "MAXIMUM WEIGHT" one above it are there for when the space shuttle is vertical on the launchpad before liftoff. While servicing c...



  13. Thigh Holders

    Snapshot Title: Thigh Holders
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Toilet
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    These levers rotate and help to hold the astronaut's legs in place over their thighs while they are seated on the toilet.



  14. Cardinal Directions

    Snapshot Title: Cardinal Directions
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Payload Bay
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    Directional signs hang throughout the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) to help orient workers in the massive building. NASA photographer Ken Thornsley watches over decommissioning work in the cargo b...



  15. Remote Manipulator System

    Snapshot Title: Remote Manipulator System
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Payload Bay
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), also known as Canadarm for its developer, was a mechanical arm used to maneuver payload and astronauts while in orbit. Astronauts attach to a plate on the...



  16. Flight Deck Windows

    Snapshot Title: Flight Deck Windows
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Payload Bay
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    These two small windows are at the rear of the flight deck in the crew module. From here, astronauts control and watch the remote manipulator arm during orbit operations.



  17. Ku-Band Antenna

    Snapshot Title: Ku-Band Antenna
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Payload Bay
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The Ku band antenna aboard the space shuttle orbiter is located in the payload bay and can be only used in orbit. It is deployed after the payload bays doors are opened once in space. It is used to tr...



  18. Airlock

    Snapshot Title: Airlock
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Payload Bay
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The airlock sits in the payload bay and is attached to the mid-deck of the crew module. It provides access for the astronauts to the payload bay and International Space Station (ISS) when docked.



  19. Tile Numbers

    Snapshot Title: Tile Numbers
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Underside
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    All of the tiles in the space shuttle's thermal protection system are identified by unique numbers indicating position and batch (when created and applied). Using these codes, a computer can generate ...



  20. Wheel Manufactured Date

    Snapshot Title: Wheel Manufactured Date
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Underside
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    This tiny date indicates the manufacturing date of the wheel rim as February 2005. This rim would have been manufactured and possibly installed before Discovery's Return to Flight mission in the summe...



  21. Floor Stripes

    Snapshot Title: Floor Stripes
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Underside
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    Similar to lines that guide aircraft to park at airport gates, these lines on the floor guide the space shuttle as it is towed into the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) so that it is in the perfectly...



  22. Leveling Jacks

    Snapshot Title: Leveling Jacks
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Underside
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    These massive jacks attach to the underside of the shuttle under the nose and wings and elevate the space shuttle to provide a completely level working surface above for orbiter processing.



  23. Nose Gear

    Snapshot Title: Nose Gear
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Underside
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The nose gear of the space shuttle is elevated continuously during processing operations and is higher off the ground than the wing landing gear. The shuttle angles downward slightly toward the nose w...



  24. Gap Fillers

    Snapshot Title: Gap Fillers
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Windows
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    Gap fillers are placed at doors and moving surfaces to minimize heating. The filler materials are made of alumnia fibers and are tucked between tiles during installation.



  25. Debris Marks

    Snapshot Title: Debris Marks
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Windows
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The space shuttle Discovery carries many signs that she has flown in space 39 times. Small pockmarks mar her surface, from minor debris or micrometeorites striking her while in orbit.



  26. Tile Numbers

    Snapshot Title: Tile Numbers
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Windows
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    Every tile on the space shuttle carries a specific code identifying its place on the shuttle and the mission and date it was last replaced.



  27. Pilot's Window

    Snapshot Title: Pilot's Window
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Windows
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The pilot's seat is on the starboard side of the flight deck. On the launchpad, pilots had a perfect view down the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.



  28. Commander's Window

    Snapshot Title: Commander's Window
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Windows
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The commander's seat is on the port side of the flight deck and this window is just to the left of their head at launch. Through this window, the commander would give a thumb's up sign to the crew clo...



  29. Wing Elevons

    Snapshot Title: Wing Elevons
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Tail Cone
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The space shuttle's wing elevons are divided into two segments to minimize hinge binding and interaction with the wing. The interior structure is made of aluminum.



  30. Tail Blanket

    Snapshot Title: Tail Blanket
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Tail Cone
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    Much of the exterior surface of the space shuttle that is not exposed to heat or debris is actually a soft, flexible insulating blanket, visible here on the rudder/speed brake portion of the tail. Thi...



  31. Landing Gear

    Snapshot Title: Landing Gear
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Tail Cone
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The starboard landing gear of the space shuttle is suspended above the ground. The shuttle is continuously elevated by leveling jacks while being processed.



  32. Tail Cone Access

    Snapshot Title: Tail Cone Access
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Tail Cone
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    This hatch provides workers access to the interior of the tail cone after installation.



  33. Cardinal Directions

    Snapshot Title: Cardinal Directions
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Tail Cone
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    Mounted on the ceiling of the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF), the cardinal direction indicators help orient operations in the massive building.



  34. Wall Tape

    Snapshot Title: Wall Tape
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Airlock
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    When the airlock hatches were open on the ground, protective tape was placed over sensitive areas that could be damaged by people and cargo moving in and out. The tape is removed before flight and onl...



  35. Upside Down Text

    Snapshot Title: Upside Down Text
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Airlock
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    Numbers and text in the airlock needed to be readable from multiple directions for astronauts floating between the International Space Station (ISS) and the shuttle and those entering from the cargo b...



  36. Payload Bay Hatch

    Snapshot Title: Payload Bay Hatch
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Airlock
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    This hatch leads out to the space shuttle's payload bay, where cargo activities and spacewalks occurred. Spacewalkers would be prepared in the airlock and depressurized before the door was opened allo...



  37. Space Station Access

    Snapshot Title: Space Station Access
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Airlock
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    When open, this hatch provided access between the space shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). After hatch opening the two crews would greet each other through these doors in a welcome cer...



  38. Space Suit Hangers

    Snapshot Title: Space Suit Hangers
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Airlock
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    These notches on the airlock wall are where connectors used to be for transportation and storage of space suits for extra-vehicular activities (EVA) also known as spacewalks.



  39. Flight Deck Access

    Snapshot Title: Flight Deck Access
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Mid-Deck
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    This access way is where the astronauts enter the flight deck of the space shuttle. One is located on each side of the mid-deck allowing the astronauts to move easily between decks.



  40. Main Hatch

    Snapshot Title: Main Hatch
    Taken by: National Geographic

    Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Mid-Deck
    Image Owner: National Geographic



    Description:

    The main hatch is how astronauts enter and exit the space shuttle before and after landing. It is never open while the shuttle is in space, with all external access done through the airlock.



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