After the final space shuttle mission in July of 2011, I had the opportunity to shoot gigapixel panoramas for National Geographic of all three orbiters during their decommissioning at the Kennedy Space Center. This two-year project also allowed me to follow each orbiter to their new homes in Los Angeles, Washington DC, and at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Inside of the Space Shuttle:
(click on the picture below for a tour of 9 panoramas)
Use the red directional links to navigate between all interior areas of a space shuttle orbiter’s Crew Module and out into the Payload Bay. Green links provide additional information throughout. The tour is best experienced full-screen with the button on the menu.
Panoramas captured on multiple occasions from December 2011 until November 2012 at the Kennedy Space Center and in March of 2014 at the California Science Center.
As featured on National Geographic’s website and here on their NewsWatch blog.
Discovery (OV-103) in the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum:
Discovery was the first of the three orbiters to be transitioned to its new museum home. Arriving in April of 2012 at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, Discovery is now surrounded with relics of human achievement as she becomes a relic herself, inspiring over a million annual visitors with the achievements of the 30+ year Shuttle Program.
Learn more about Discovery’s arrival at the Smithsonian here in my post on National Geographic’s NewsWatch blog.
Atlantis (OV-104) in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex:
These panoramas of Space Shuttle Atlantis capture three key moments in the construction of her new display: while wrapped in protective plastic during the dirtiest period of construction, after that plastic had been removed but before both Payload Bay doors were opened, and in the completed exhibit just days before opening to the public. Each pair of panoramas, one from above and one below, were taken from nearly the same location in January, May and June of 2013.
Learn more about Atlantis’ move to the Visitor Center here in my post on National Geographic’s StarStruck blog.
Endeavour (OV-105) in the California Science Center:
These 12 panoramas of Space Shuttle Endeavour were taken in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in 2014 and 2015.
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 747 (SCA-905):
Explore two interior areas of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA-905), a vintage 1970 747-100 used to transport space shuttle orbiters between NASA facilities.
Find more information about the SCA here in my post on National Geographic’s StarStruck blog.
Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA N944NA):
NASA modified four Gulfstream II aircraft to mimic the landing profile of a Space Shuttle orbiter and provide a simulating platform for astronauts. Inside, the bipolar cockpit of the STA is half orbiter, half airplane, complete with the same glass cockpit screens and control surfaces that a Shuttle Commander would later use to glide their spacecraft to a smooth landing. Outside, the Gulfstream’s main landing gear were left down and the engines powered in reverse, making the airplane fall out of the sky at the intended 20-degree angle with similar handling characteristics to an orbiter. Shuttle Commanders and Pilots flew 1000 practice landings each in these airplanes before their missions.
STA N944NA is currently located at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California.