Seattle's space shuttle trainer getting new parts this weekend

Jun 29, 2012

NASA is making a special delivery to Seattle this weekend. If you go to the Museum of Flight on Saturday morning, you’ll see one of the world’s biggest cargo planes land in the parking lot. It’s carrying the cockpit and crew cabin of a full-sized space shuttle trainer.

The shuttle trainer is so big, it has to be delivered in pieces. Ted Huetter from the Museum of Flight says that once the museum puts it back together, you’ll be able see pretty much everything inside.

"People will be able to look in the hatches, look in the windows, they'll be able to see what the crew compartment looks like, and also the living compartment where they would eat and sleep and go to the loo," he says.

And in the mean time, the Boeing cargo plane delivering the shuttle is worth a look. It’s called the Super Guppy (not to be confused with the Pregnant Guppy or the Mini Guppy). With its fat belly and comparatively short wings, the Super Guppy basically looks like a giant flying cartoon fish.

NASA has used the Super Guppy since the 1960s to transport oversized cargo, including parts for the International Space Station. Its cargo hold is a massive 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide, and 111 feet long.

The Guppy delivering the shuttle trainer to Seattle is the last of its kind still in commission; these days, NASA mainly uses the Airbus Beluga, which can hold twice as much cargo.

NASA astronauts Greg C. Johnson and Mike Foreman, along with NASA pilot Dick Clark, will fly the Super Guppy to Seattle on Saturday morning. Weather permitting, they'll do a few laps over the city before landing at the Museum of Flight at 11 a.m.

The plane will be on display in the museum’s east parking lot for the rest of the weekend, and the shuttle trainer itself should be ready for public viewing by late September.

Here's an idea of what the trainer will look like when assembled:

 

[Photo courtesy AGeekMom / Flickr Creative Commons]