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Museum of Flight Dives Into Assembling Space-shuttle Trainer
Imagine you just brought something home from Ikea that was so cool you were undeterred by the note on the box saying "some assembly required."
Now, just for fun, let's say you didn't actually bring it home yourself, but you had it delivered — in three shipments by air and nine by truck.
Let's say it arrived in 22 pieces and that the three main sections alone weighed more than 32 tons. And that once you put the whole thing together, it would be 122 feet long, and at its highest point, more than 46 feet tall.
Now you know how Chris Mailander is spending his summer.
As the director of exhibits at the Museum of Flight, Mailander is coordinating work on the Full Fuselage Trainer, the NASA shuttle mock-up shipped here from Houston for permanent display at the museum.
Built in 1979, the FFT was used to help train the crews for all 135 U.S. shuttle missions, from 1981 until the program ended last year.
"What struck me when I first saw it was that it's really big," said Mailander, who made several trips to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to examine the FFT when it was in one piece, and to help shape the plans for its move and display.
Now, museum staffers and a crew from Seattle-based Pacific Studio aren't just reassembling the trainer, but transforming it into what's hoped will be a centerpiece exhibit to attract and enlighten visitors for decades.