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Space Shuttle (STS) SCA Ferry Photo Gallery Contact Sheet Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) Space Shuttle Ferry Photo Gallery Contact Sheet

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Formats: Low Resolution Image Contact Sheet (66 KBytes)
Medium Resolution Image Contact Sheet (66 KBytes)
High Resolution Image Contact Sheet (59 KBytes)


These are the image contact sheets for each image resolution of the NASA Dryden Space Shuttle (STS) SCA Ferry Photo Gallery.

NASA uses two modified Boeing 747 jetliners, originally manufactured for commercial use, as Space Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). One is a 747-100 model, while the other is designated a 747-100SR (short range). The two aircraft are identical in appearance and in their performance as Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

The 747 series of aircraft are four-engine intercontinental-range swept-wing "jumbo jets" that entered commercial service in 1969.

The SCAs are used to ferry Space Shuttle orbiters from landing sites back to the launch complex at the Kennedy Space Center, and also to and from other locations too distant for the orbiters to be delivered by ground transportation. The orbiters are placed atop the SCAs by mate-demate devices, large gantry-like structures that hoist the orbiters off the ground for post-flight servicing, and then mate them with the SCAs for ferry flights.

Features which distinguish the two SCAs from standard 747 jetliners include: three struts, with associated interior structural strengthening, that protrude from the top of the fuselage (two aft, one forward) on which the orbiter is attached; two additional vertical stabilizers, one on each end of the standard horizontal stabilizer, to enhance directional stability, removal of all interior furnishings and equipment aft of the forward No. 1 doors; and instrumentation used by SCA flight crews and engineers to monitor orbiter electrical loads during the ferry flights and also during pre- and post-ferry flight operations.

NASA 905 was the first SCA. It was obtained from American Airlines in 1974. Shortly after it was accepted by NASA it was flown in a series of wake vortex research flights at the Dryden Flight Research Center in a study to seek ways of reducing turbulence produced by large aircraft.

Along with ferrying Enterprise and the flight rated orbiters between the launch and landing sites and other locations, NASA 905 also ferried Enterprise to Europe for display in England and at the Paris Air Show. NASA 905 was the only SCA used by the space shuttle program until November 1990, when NASA 911 was delivered.

The second SCA is designated NASA 911. It was obtained by NASA from Japan Airlines (JAL) in 1989, and was also modified by Boeing Corporation. It was delivered to NASA Nov. 20, 1990.

The SCAs have a wingspan of 195 ft. 8 in., a length of 231 ft. 10 in., a height to top of cockpit area of 32 ft. 1 in., and a max. gross taxi weight of 713,000 lbs. They are powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7J gas turbine engines, each producing 50,000 lbs of thrust. Minimum crew for a flight is two pilots and one flight engineer. Minimum for mated flight is two pilots and two flight engineers. The two SCAs are under the operational control of NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

Space Shuttles are the main element of America's Space Transportation System and are used for space research and other space applications. The shuttles are the first vehicles capable of being launched into space and returning to Earth on a routine basis.

Space Shuttles are used as orbiting laboratories in which scientists and mission specialists conduct a wide variety of scientific experiments. Crews aboard shuttles place satellites in orbit, rendezvous with satellites to carry out repair missions and return them to space, and retrieve satellites and return them to Earth for refurbishment and reuse.

Space Shuttles are true aerospace vehicles. They leave Earth and its atmosphere under rocket power provided by three liquid-propellant main engines withtwo solid-propellant boosters attached plus an external liquid-fuel tank. After their orbital missions, they streak back through the atmosphere and land like airplanes. The returning shuttles, however, land like gliders, without power and on runways. Other rockets can place heavy payloads into orbit, but, they can only be used once. Space Shuttles are designed to be continually reused.

When Space Shuttles are used to transport complete scientific laboratories into space, the laboratories remain inside the payload bay throughout the mission. They are then removed after the Space Shuttle returns to Earth and can be reused on future flights. Some of these orbital laboratories, like the Spacelab, provide facilities for several specialists to conduct experiments in such fields as medicine, astronomy, and materials manufacturing. Some types of satellites deployed by Space Shuttles include those involved in environmental and resources protection, astronomy, weather forecasting, navigation, oceanographic studies, and other scientific fields.

The Space Shuttles can also launch spacecraft into orbits higher than the Shuttle's altitude limit through the use of Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) propulsion units. After release from the Space Shuttle payload bay, the IUS is ignited to carry the spacecraft into deep space. The Space Shuttles are also being used to carry elements of the International Space Station into space where they are assembled in orbit.

The Space Shuttles were built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division, Downey, California. Rockwell's Rocketdyne Division (now part of Boeing) builds the three main engines, and Thiokol, Brigham City, Utah, makes the solid rocket booster motors. MartinMarietta Corporation (now Lockheed Martin), New Orleans, Louisiana, makes the external tanks.

Each orbiter (Space Shuttle) is 121 feet long, has a wingspan of 78 feet, and a height of 57 feet. The Space Shuttle is approximately the size of a DC-9 commercial airliner and can carry a payload of 65,000 pounds into orbit. The payload bay is 60 feet long and 15 feet in diameter. Each main engine is capable of producing a sea level thrust of 375,000 pounds and a vacuum (orbital) thrust of 470,000 pounds. The engines burn a mixture of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. In orbit, the Space Shuttles circle the earth at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour with each orbit taking about 90 minutes. A Space Shuttle crew sees a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes. When Space Shuttle flights began in April 1981, Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, was the primary landing site for the Shuttles. Now Kennedy Space Center, Florida, is the primary landing site with Dryden remaining as the principal alternate landing site.

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Keywords: Space Shuttle; NASA; Spacelab; IUS; Inertial Upper Stage; Rockwell; Rocketdyne; Boeing; Thiokol; MartinMarietta; Lockheed Martin; Dryden Flight Research Center; Kennedy Space Center; DC-9; SCA; Boeing 747; NASA #905; NASA #911; Shuttle Carrier Aircraft; MDD; Kennedy Space Center; Florida

Last Modified: February 6, 2002
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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