Pathfinder Orbiter Historical

Pathfinder Orbiter Historical (HM1UOB)

Location: Huntsville, AL 35805 Madison County
Country: United States of America

N 34° 42.64', W 86° 39.197'

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Shuttle "Body Double"

Pathfinder is a test article of NASA Space Shuttle Orbiter, built by Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in 1977 to practice lifting and handling the future Orbiter vehicles. Made of scrap rocket parts steel beams and wood, the mockup's size, shape and weight initially close matched the Orbiter's characteristics. It lacked engines and flight systems, as it was never intended to fly.

Pathfinder Specs
· Length: 120 ft (36.6 m)
· Height: 47 ft (14.3 m)
· Wingspan: 78 ft (23.8 m)
· Weight: 153,000 lbs (69, 399 kg)

A Major Makeover
When Pathfinder was first built, it had a plain, mostly white exterior. In 1982, after fulfilling its role for the Shuttle Program, it was lent to the American-Japan Society for their Great Space Shuttle Exposition in Tokyo. The Society hired Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. of Huntsville to overhaul Pathfinder so it looked nearly identical to the flown Orbiters, but was lighter and easier to transport.

The Shuttle Stack
Pathfinder now sits atop an authentic External Tank (ET) test article and two Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) models, to form the complete Space Shuttle stack. During launches of Shuttle missions, the SRBs provided severity percent of the thrust to lift the stack. The ET fueled the three Space Shuttle Main Engines, which
supplied the rest of the required thrust. The SRBs and ETs were jettisoned after their fuel was depleted.
Pathfinder now sits atop an authentic External Tank (ET) test article and two Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) models, to form the complete Space Shuttle stack. During launches of Shuttle missions, the SRBs provided severity percent of the thrust to lift the stack. The ET fueled the three Space Shuttle Main Engines, which supplied the rest of the required thrust. The SRBs and ETs were jettisoned after their fuel was depleted.

(captions)
Below: A giant crane boosts the Space Shuttle Orbiter test article into MSFC's Dynamic Test Stand, 1977.
Above: Prior to Teledyne Brown's redesign effort, no one would have mistaken the low-fidelity Pathfinder for a real Orbiter.
Above: After stripping it down to its steel-l-beams, Teledyne Brown completely rebuilt Pathfinder to make its shape look more authentic.
Above: With the addition of painted details and other finishing touches. Pathfinder emerged looking a lot closer to an actual Orbiter.
Left: Pathfinder was put on permanent display at the U. S. Space & Rocket Center in 1988.
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Details
HM NumberHM1UOB
Tags
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 26th, 2016 at 1:02pm PDT -07:00
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 531749 N 3841012
Decimal Degrees34.71066667, -86.65328333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 34° 42.64', W 86° 39.197'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds34° 42' 38.4" N, 86° 39' 11.82" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)256
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville AL 35805, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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