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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Enterprise Pods Tested for Move

Teams at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida continue practicing rarely performed techniques for moving space shuttles among some of the nation's premier museums as next year's shuttle shuffle nears.

The latest rehearsal saw an inoperative orbital maneuvering system pod positioned with shuttle Endeavour to practice placing two of the pods on the prototype shuttle Enterprise for transportation next year. The inoperative pods were made for Enterprise to use during its approach and landing tests in 1977.

It also gave workers who have not dealt with the pods before a chance to practice and refine the process, Pannullo said. It takes about three days to install the ALTA pods.

The ALTA pods are replicas of the orbital maneuvering system pods, or OMS pods, that shuttle used to steer in space.

Although designed for Enterprise, which never went into orbit, the ALTA pods were used on all the shuttles when they were flown on the back of a modified 747 from Florida to the shuttle's factory in Palmdale, Calif., for periodic overhaul.

They were last used in 2001 when Columbia was brought back from the West Coast to Kennedy, Pannullo said.

The shuttles that flew into orbit during the 30-year program will be displayed with the operational pods they used, although those pods will have been drained of toxic residue and other potential hazards before they are put on display.

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