NASA's space shuttle carrier jet is on the move

NASA's original Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, NASA 905, will depart on a two-night road trip from Ellington Field to Space Center Houston on Monday, April 28, 2014. The jumbo jet will go on display in 2015 as part of a new eight-story-tall public attraction.  collectSPACE.com/Robert Z. Pearlman

For more than 30 years, a Boeing 747 jumbo jet known as N905NA transported NASA space shuttles across the country, famously giving Endeavour, Discovery and Enterprise their final rides in 2012.

Now, Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) N905NA is the one being shuttled.

On April 28, the partially-dismantled aircraft started a short but extremely slow eight-mile journey from its former home at the Johnson Space Center to its new home at Space Center Houston, where it will be put on display.

The largest part to be transported intact is the fuselage, stretching about the length of two NBA basketball courts. All together, the four self-propelled trailers and three tractor-trailers hauling the parts create a 1,000-foot convoy.


The journey will take two nights, as the full convoy is moving about 3 miles per hour -- about the speed of a person walking. Most of the journey happened Monday night; the final 2 miles are slated for Tuesday night. Moving the massive aircraft requires taking down traffic lights, signs and utility poles along the route.

"Our primary concern during the move is for the safety of our community and the workers involved," Richard Allen, president and CEO of Space Center Houston, said in a statement. "The relocation of the 747 will be a grand sight, but we want to make sure everyone affected is fully prepared for the road closures."

Built in 1970, the aircraft was Boeing's 86th 747 and was an American Airlines jetliner until NASA purchased it in 1974. It was the sole shuttle transporter until NASA added a second SCA in 1990. It flew its final missions in 2012, transporting the Discovery, Endeavour and Enterprise shuttles to their museum homes. In all, in logged 3,774 flights over more than 35 years.

N905NA will be on reassembled and on display at Space Center Houston starting in 2015. It will also be carrying a full-size replica space shuttle, Independence, on its back, creating an 8-story exhibit open for tours.

spaceshuttleexhibit.jpg
Artist rendering of "The Shuttle and 747 Carrier" public attraction to open at Space Center Houston in 2015.
Space Center Houston

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