A couple of weeks ago, we noted with interest that the space shuttle Endeavour (OV85) would be set up as a full-stack launch configuration display, complete with external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters. We predicted that this would result in some interesting engineering, not least of which will be making the entire 20-story stack safe from seismic activity. Looks like we were right on all counts, with this story about the foundation upon which the display will stand, which has been under construction for quite a while now. The base has six seismic isolators that support the 2.4-m thick slab of reinforced concrete that will serve as a perch for the full stack. The 1,800-ton slab will be able to move a meter or so from its resting position during earthquakes. Or perhaps more accurately, the foundation will allow Los Angeles to move as much as it wants while Endeavour rides it out.
If like us you’re worried that seismic loads are vastly different than the loads the spacecraft was actually designed for, relax — it turns out that the flight loads are far in excess of predicted loads from seismic stress. The plan is to build the booster stacks first — the aft skirts, which will support the entire stack, were just bolted in place — then lift the external tank in place between the boosters, and finally hoist the actual orbiter into place. After the stack is complete, the rest of the building will be built around it. We’re really looking forward to seeing some video on this project.