Kennedy Space Center got a taste of Hollywood this week as the space shuttle program marked yet another milestone in the program’s slow march toward completion. As these exciting and historic events were unfolding, local leaders were working on ways to make the transition period less painful than it is already becoming. This week also saw even more skilled workers being laid off. As this tumultuous period continues to unfold, we at AmericaSpace are working to ensure that the history of the first American space age – is not forgotten.
Discovery’s Final Payload Delivered to Launch Complex 39A
For the last time space shuttle Discovery’s payload canister made its way to Launch Complex 39A (LC39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. On Thursday, October 7, 2010 the vertically-stacked payload canister traveled from the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) to LC39A.
The large white canister is hoisted up and the payload that is sealed inside will be removed. From there the canister is taken away, the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) will swing over the space shuttle and then be loaded into the shuttle’s cargo bay. The entire process takes a little over a week.
For the final flight of Discovery, STS-133, the payload includes the reconfigured Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) now dubbed the Permanent Multipurpose Module. Inside of the PMM is the first humanoid robot to fly into space Robonaut-2 or “R2.” The mission will also carry the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and much-needed spare parts to the International Space Station (ISS).
The mission is slated to launch no-earlier-than Nov.1 at 4:40 p.m. EDT. The crew consists of Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Nicole Stott, Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra and Michael Barratt.
Autobots and Decepticons Battle at KSC on Set of “Transformers 3”
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center came under attack from the merciless Decepticons this week. However, Optimus Prime and his valiant band of Autobots fended them off, and then stood watch over the space center for the remainder of the week – along with the cast and crew of “Transformers 3, The Dark of the Moon.” Although the set was closed – there were some interesting revelations about what one can expect to see in the third installment of the highly-successful film franchise – including a surprise guest star.
Journalists that were present on Oct. 7, for the delivery of STS-133’s payload were treated with the sights and sounds of Hollywood. Although these reporters and correspondents were kept on a very short leash the journalists present still managed to see the Autobots leader in truck mode, some actors in black soldier gear and some other tantalizing tidbits.
Numerous KSC employees have been selected to act as extras in the film. This serves the purpose of creating added realism to the film. Instead of training someone to “look” they know what they’re doing – more-likely-than-not those are the actual workers who do that job at America’s spaceport everyday. Outside of this film being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appear in a big budget summer blockbuster, it also provided an opportunity to rub shoulders with current and upcoming movie stars.
There is however one star whose presence in the film has been kept top secret. Her identity however, is crucial to the plot of the film which is said to revolve around the space age. She is none other – than the space shuttle Discovery. That’s right, the orbiter that returned America to flight twice is revealed to actually be a transformer. That is at least what sources close to the film are saying. Michael bay, the film’s director, had his computer hacked during the filming of the first Transformers movie and has been notorious about spreading disinformation.
United Space Alliance Announces Next Wave of Layoffs
United Space Alliance (USA) announced on Oct. 8 the next round of layoffs that will affect close to 200 highly-trained aerospace workers in the Space Coast region. Across the nation, these layoffs will see 320 employees handed their pink slips with 171 looking at the unemployment line in Florida.
On Oct. 1 USA laid off 900 employees from their jobs at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The space firm allows workers to volunteer to be laid off. USA is comprised of Boeing and Lockheed Martin and conducts much of the work done on the space shuttle and International Space Station programs. The firm now only employs a little over 4,100 workers at KSC. The layoffs however, are far from over with another round expected for this coming April.
This Week in Cape Canaveral History
October 4, 1960: The United States Air Force successfully placed the COURIER I-B communications satellite into orbit using a Thor-Able-Star launch vehicle from Kennedy Space Center. After completing one orbit, it transmitted a message from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the United Nations. This launch marked the 100th launch of the Douglas Thor rocket, which set a record by transporting 60 percent of U.S. satellites into orbit.
October 6, 1990: NASA launched space shuttle Discovery on mission STS-41 from Kennedy Space Center with the Ulysses solar spacecraft on board. Ulysses was designed by the European Space Agency (ESA) to explore the heliosphere of the sun.