Go Inside The Jumbo Jet That Carries 172,000 Pound Space Shuttles


Photo: GigaPan/National Geographic

This week NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour will leave Kennedy Space centre in Florida and be flown to Los Angeles.

The retired orbiter will get to its new home on the back of a modified Boeing 747, also known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA.

endeavour will be towed from the airport to its new permanent home at the California Science centre in October.  

Since Endeavour is the last space shuttle of NASA’s five-strong fleet to be relocated and put on public display following the space shuttle program’s end in 2011, this will also be the SCA’s final flight.

National Geographic’s Jon Brack shot incredible panoramic views of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft’s cockpit and fuselage¬†before it’s put out of service forever.

Check out our slideshow version. Then go play with the 360 degree interactive versions at GigaPan.

NASA has two modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircrafts that it used to ferry space shuttle orbiters from landing sites back to the Kennedy Space centre in Florida.

The Boeing 747-100, or NASA 905, was the first SCA purchased by NASA in 1974. Before its role at NASA, the plane was a commercial jet owned by American Airlines.

Following retirement of the space shuttle program, NASA 905A has been busy transporting space shuttles to the cities of their final display sites.

Most of the 747's interior furnishings and equipment were removed to save weight and reduce fuel costs.

The original first class seating is still there and used for passengers shepherding the orbiter to its new location.

The sides of the aircraft, painted green, are decorated with photographs of past ferry flights.

Here's the control yoke inside the cockpit.

The throttle controls.

Original charts display radio frequencies as well as maximum takeoff and landing limits.

The cockpit still has the original analogue displays and dials.

An original operation flight manual.

The Enterprise reached its new home in August.

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