43 Photos of Space Shuttle Enterprise Being Removed from 747 Carrier Aircraft
Crews from NASA and United Space Alliance chose the overnight hours on Saturday for the delicate operation thanks to a lull in forecast winds. A unique wind anchor was put in place just in case a stray gust attempted to blow the shuttle around as it was suspended from two cranes.
After the move was complete, the trailer and Enterprise were backed into the hangar where the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft had been parked. Enterprise will remain in the hangar until an undetermined date in June, when the trailer will move Enterprise to a nearby dock on Jamaica Bay, from which the orbiter will be lifted onto a barge.
You’ll notice in the photos that Enterprise’s landing gear is retracted. That’s because the
Cross Bay Bridge, Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge and Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, under which the barge and Enterprise must pass on their way to the Hudson River, each offer roughly 52-55 feet of clearance. The shuttle with its gear extended is around 56 feet high. Even with the gear up, the height of the barge added to the equation means that even at low tide, they’ll be cutting it close.
Once they make it under the bridge, Enterprise will be offloaded at a dock in Bayonne, New Jersey, from which it will be loaded onto a massive crane barge. The larger vessel will then float up the Hudson to the Intrepid, where it will lift Enterprise onto the deck. The whole process may take over a week, depending on tides and weather, but better safe than sorry.
Planespotting note: The Shuttle Carrier 747 (N905NA) is expected to depart JFK this coming Friday.