Oct 032010

A few days back (just before things went to hell out here), I recieved some photos and a first-hand account of the delivery of external tank ET-122 (which is due to be launched on STS-134, the probable next-to-last shuttle flight) to KSC. Something unique about this tank, nicknamed the “Katrina tank” since it was at Michoud when Katrina hit, damaging some of the insulating foam, is that it has “nose art.” The art is on the intertank access door, and the assumption is that it will be left in place through launch. However, normal practice is to foam over the door, so while the art might still be there, it may be hidden behind inches of foam.

Given how twitchy NASA became about foam after Columbia, I have my doubts… I’d bet that the art is stripped over before foam is applied (how well does the foam bond to the art?), or the door might be simply replaced. But it would be interesting to see it launch with the art on display.

et122art1.jpg  et122art2.jpg  et122art3.jpg

 Posted by at 10:06 am
  • Pat Flannery

    You know, now that you mention it, it is strange that the ETs didn’t have some mission-specific artwork on them, like all the Delta II’s with the stars for sucessful prevous missions in the side triangle marking.

  • Michael Holt

    Why not have art on the things? What problems does it cause?

  • Pat Flannery

    Since it would be on the interbank section, I can’t seeing it causing any problems regarding insulation, and weight of the paint certainly wouldn’t have been much.
    It would have actually served a useful purpose too, allowing launch photos to be quickly identified as to which mission they were from.

  • Pat Flannery

    Oh, wait a minute here, I think I may see the problem.
    Right from the beginning of the Shuttle program, There were suggestions that NASA could sell advertising space on the ETs to offset total launch costs, as they were throw-away items.
    Being good government employees, NASA could never sully itself itself with matters of mere money, much less profit, so squelched even the thought of doing something so vulgar.
    I imagine the way they did that was by banning all markings on the tank whatsoever – mission art, ads, or what-not, so as not to have to determine what was an ad and what wasn’t.
    In that case there is very little chance this marking will be visible on the ET at liftoff, as it incorporates the Lockheed-Martin star in its design.