The NASA 905 jet ferried dozens of space shuttles just back from orbit across the country during the shuttle program and will be moving from its current spot in a remote part of Ellington Field to its new home just outside the front doors of Space Center Houston.
The Independence shuttle mock-up will eventually sit atop it as part of a $12 million, six-story interactive attraction.
All lanes of Highway 3 will be closed from Scarsdale Road to NASA Parkway from 9 p.m. Monday, April 28, until 4:30 a.m. All lanes of NASA Parkway from Highway 3 to Saturn Lane will be closed from 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, until 4:30 a.m.
Nine large plane pieces on six tractor trailers will be moved over those two nights over a distance of just 8 miles. All of the pieces will move to a site near NASA Parkway early Tuesday before moving again for a Wednesday morning arrival at the museum.
The roads will be temporarily closed so that workers can dismantle streetlights, signs and utility poles as the convoy approaches.
If you were planning on staking out a spot to watch the developments, you are on your own.
“There is no official public viewing area, and we tried to evaluate that possibility early on, but in the interest of safety we decided to move it overnight and minimize the impact on our neighbors,” said Space Center Houston spokesman Jack Moore. There will be limited access areas for the press to view the convoy, though.
If you really want to see the move on Monday and Tuesday nights, your best bet is to probably camp out in a parking lot along Highway 3, but you might have to stay put until just before dawn each morning, as the roads will be closed until 4:30 a.m.
“You’ll be able to see it for some distance, it’s a big operation,” Moore said. The fuselage is the biggest piece of the moving puzzle.
Palletized Trucking is doing the work for Space Center Houston at what Moore says is “an extremely reduced cost.”
The special “Aircraft on Ground” team from Boeing that took apart the NASA-donated plane did it in such a way that it would still be able to fly, if it weren’t for its engines being removed. Those went back to NASA to be re-purposed.
“The airframe is definitely air-worthy,” Moore said.
Once the pieces are all in the Space Center Houston parking lot, there will be a two-day breather and it’s back to work for the Boeing team.
“Work will begin that next Saturday in hopes to get it back together within 44 days,” said Moore. Hoisting the Independence shuttle in the air to attach it to the top of the 747 will come sometime after before the end of the year.
Moore said the museum has already raised 75 percent of the $12 million needed for the project.
“We need an extra $2.7 million to populate it with the exhibits planned,” he said.
This project is just the first phase of a 10-year expansion of the museum, he added.
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