Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

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Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby p51 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 1:16 pm

Check this out, a photo of Pathfinder right after it was installed at Huntsville. Note SRBs have black paint, this is what they originally looked like when they were built, they were special made for what was going to be the polar orbit launches out of Vandenberg, then painted white to match the ones out of Kennedy Space Center: http://www.collectspace.com/review/ussrc_pathfinder01-lg.jpg
Also, a neat video from the past here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dbxazoUthE
Last edited by p51 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby Hotdog » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:47 pm

That's a much better photo than the one I had! Thanks for passing it along.
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby collectSPACE » Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:08 pm

p51 wrote:Note SRBs have black paint

That's not paint; that is the natural color of the filament-wound composite fiber. Painting the boosters would defeat the purpose of the carbon fiber: to decrease weight to increase thrust.

Discussion of the photo and video on collectSPACE can be found here: http://www.collectspace.com/ubb/Forum41 ... 00595.html
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby p51 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:13 pm

Yeah, I knew why the colors, I got lazy and didn't feel like writing a detailed description as to why it's black...
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby Hotdog » Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:52 pm

Here are a couple more photos showing the unpainted filament-wound casings installed onto the Pathfinder stack.

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This got me looking further into my collection of Pathfinder photos. The Pathfinder sat for a year in the parking lot waiting for the Shuttle Park to be built. When I saw her in the Spring of 1987, she looked like this:

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If you look closely at the video, the engines appear to be mockups. So I'm guessing the two real SSME's were installed on-site at Sprocket sometime between her delivery at Sprocket and being mated to the stack.

It appears Sprocket may have also further modified the Pathfinder. Here is an image of Pathfinder taken just after Teledyne Brown finished sprucing her up for the Tokyo "Great Space Shuttle Expo" in the early 80s:

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When you compare these images, you'll notice Pathfinder once had painted RCS thrusters on her nose. She also had aft overhead windows! These do not exist on the final Pathfinder on display at Sprocket. Here is an aerial image from 1990:

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So what do you guys think? What other modifications did Sprocket have to make to Pathfinder to get it ready for the stack display? What mods were made to the nose that might have required repainting that area? Were the overhead windows filled in out of fear rain might leak in?
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby Boomerang » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:21 pm

That leads to the question were the overhead windows actual windows? The cockpit windows appear to be real from the pictures of Pathfinder being refurbished but you cant see the overhed windows vey clearly in any picture so they may be painted on like the RCS. Ofcourse looks like the whole forward fuselage as we know it now was ceated for the Japan tour as the front looked very diffrent in its testing days. http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j136/ ... derSLF.jpg
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby collectSPACE » Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:52 am

Boomerang wrote:The cockpit windows appear to be real from the pictures of Pathfinder being refurbished but you cant see the overhed windows vey clearly in any picture so they may be painted on like the RCS.

I have on loan from the USSRC an album of photos from the exhibit in Japan. Unfortunately none are taken from above, so there's no telling if the overhead windows are there or not, painted or not.

The forward windows do reflect light so at the very least they aren't painted on, but they don't appear to be transparent glass windows but perhaps black-colored plastic.
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby p51 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:44 pm

Does anyone have a clue what the inside of the Pathfinder looked like? I'd never realized there was an 'inside' anyone would need access to until I saw this photo in a book and I've always wondered what was in there...
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Or was this just a test fit for the exit stairs to line up to with no real door on the Pathfinder?
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby Boomerang » Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:22 pm

I think this was just a fit test. I remember back in 2008 i believe it was the front of Pathfinder suffered some damage the lowere chin for lack of abetter description dropped out and fell onto the ET where it came to rest. From the pictures i saw it was an empty hollow shell and looked like it was mostly plywood.
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby Boomerang » Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:33 pm

Here are pictures Vince posted to the hab 1 home page back when this happened you can see some of the interior other than its building materials there is nothing there http://www.hab1.com/2008/06/04/oh-no-pathfinder-woe/
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby Hotdog » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:15 pm

collectSPACE wrote:I have on loan from the USSRC an album of photos from the exhibit in Japan. Unfortunately none are taken from above, so there's no telling if the overhead windows are there or not, painted or not.

The forward windows do reflect light so at the very least they aren't painted on, but they don't appear to be transparent glass windows but perhaps black-colored plastic.


I would love to see these photos! Searched all over and could not find one photo or account of this mysterious 1980s event.
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby Steve » Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:38 pm

These are some awesome pictures & History of Pathfinder. Thanks for sharing!!
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby collectSPACE » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:36 pm

Hotdog wrote:
collectSPACE wrote:I would love to see these photos! Searched all over and could not find one photo or account of this mysterious 1980s event.

I am having them scanned for an eventual feature and gallery on collectSPACE. I've told Vince that I will definitely share the article and photos with Hab1 when they are ready...
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby p51 » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:44 pm

Looking forward to that, Robert, both here and on the Collect Space forum! :D
It's funny in that I, too, have seen next to nothing on the Japanese exhibition.
Even Dennis R. Jenkins's amazing book on the hsitory of the STS program (which is an amazing book, anyone here should have a copy) has very little on Pathfinder in it.
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Re: Pathfinder when it was new at Huntsville...

Postby Hotdog » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:26 pm

I found another old photo of the Pathfinder orbiter just after her arrival in Huntsville in early 1987. These are hard to come by! You can see they hadn't painted the vertical stabilizer yet, and from what I can tell (from other photos), it is not the same vertical stabilizer that was done by the Teledyne Brown refurb for the Japanese show. I'm guessing it fell off and was damaged at some point and a new stabilizer had to be fabricated.

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Also notice how shiny the windows are. At some point after she was mated with the stack, the windows were painted black. I wouldn't be surprised if that was done by the same restoration crew responsible for repainting the Pathfinder name as "PATHFINDER" in all upper case.
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