June 30th, 2012
Today NASA delivered the nose section of the Space Shuttle trainer to Seattle’s Museum Of Flight. To deliver such a large component they needed to use their Super Guppy transport aircraft (this was the first of a number of flights that will take place to deliver all the components of the Space Shuttle Trainer). Officially called the Aero-Spacelines B-377-SGT Super Guppy Turbine it is the last of its kind still in operation and is powered by 4 Allison 501-D22C turbo-prop engines, it is basically a hybrid aircraft made with components of the Boeing 377 (cockpit, wings, tail and main landing gear), new fuselage parts and a modified nose wheel from a Boeing 707 (the first variant flew in 1965 but this one was built in 1983 and was the last one produced). NASA base the aircraft in Houston, Texas.
The Super Guppy did a flyover of Boeing Field, Seattle and Paine Field near Everett before coming into land at Boeing Field. The Governor of Washington State, Astronauts and various dignitaries and a large crowd were present outside the museum to experience this historic moment.
Upon landing the Super Guppy had to be refueled to ensure the weight balance was correct before the nose of the trainer could be unloaded. Then after the official hand over ceremony, the big door (the nose of the Super Guppy) was opened and the shuttle trainer nose was slowly removed by the NASA crew with the assistance of the US Military and their huge Tunner loader that was then used to take the nose to its new home.
Once all deliveries are complete the Space Shuttle trainer will be fully reassembled and will be displayed in the museum’s new Charles Simonyi Space Gallery. The cool thing about the trainer module is that people will be able to walk inside it and see how the Space Shuttle’s were fitted out and see where all shuttle astronauts were trained to crew it into space.