CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A caravan of trucks crawled over Clay County roads Friday morning carrying huge pieces of former NASA Space Shuttles and support equipment from Green Cove Springs to their final resting place in Keystone Heights.
Starting at 9 a.m., the historic items from NASA were trucked through the county to the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum at the Keystone Heights Airport. The last item arrived just after noon.
"We're talking seven days a week for about 3½ years to make today possible," said Bob Oehl of the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum. "We pulled all of this together to happen smoothly and safely. It takes an awful lot of logistics."
The crew hatch access vehicle, iconic crew transport vehicle and other items will join a shuttle cockpit simulator already at the museum to be on public display at the former World War II Army Air Corps air base starting Saturday afternoon.
"It's a great thing to have our here and to save history for NASA project," said Kenneth New, an aviator whose dream was to bring the shuttle items to Keystone Heights. "What it's done and all the great spinoffs and for this museum, Wings and Dreams is a great place to have all this equipment come to, right in our own backyard."
The heavy-duty vehicle transporting the tank and other pieces moved about 15 to 20 miles per hour, so it took several hours to go from Green Cove Springs to Keystone Heights.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office traffic deputies escorted the NASA equipment the entire way just to make sure everyone is safe on the road and crews from Clay Electric had crews along the route to lift or take down 34 power lines to allow the over-height transport vehicles to pass.
The last intact, bright-orange, external fuel tank flight test article, a tank transporter remains where it was offloaded by barge at Green Cove Springs.
NASA says this particular tank weighs about 75,000 pounds unfueled and stands more than 15-stories tall. Each tank was referred to as the "backbone" of the shuttle stack. Their job was to hold about 535,000 gallons of super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to propel the spacecraft to orbit.