Wednesday, September 19, 2012

STS-9 causeway pass and brochure

Spacelab was a collection of laboratory modules that could be carried in the space shuttle’s cargo bay. The system was built by the ESA (the European Space Agency) as a result of a co-operative agreement with NASA that dated back to 1973. It features very prominently in my memories of the early shuttle program, because it was the payload most frequently depicted. Spacelab seemed to appear in every shuttle-related book illustration, poster, model kit, or toy. The casual observer could have been forgiven for thinking that a particular combination of Spacelab modules was an integral part of the shuttle; a notion completely antithetical to its versatile design.

I’ll present some payload-specific memorabilia another time, but this week, I’ve got some mementos of STS-9. This mission was the first to carry Spacelab to orbit, and launched in November 1983 with the space shuttle Columbia on her sixth flight.

This brochure, issued by the shuttle’s manufacturer, Rockwell International (today, part of Boeing) in October 1983 introduces the mission and its crew:

The brochure contains an interesting inconsistency. The six-page brochure issued for STS-6 earlier in the year has two sidebars; one titled “Mission Log” with a summary of previous shuttle flights, and the other titled “Mission Profile” with a summary of the mission itself. The STS-9 brochure has an equivalent section titled “STS-9 Mission Log”, which to me suggests it should outline the schedule for the mission. It also uses similar graphics to the STS-6 “Mission Profile” but correct for STS-9, including revealing Spacelab to space. However, the text is just summary of the previous eight missions. I wonder if the two sections were condensed into one during preparation of the brochure, perhaps to save pages?

The brochure mentions Rockwell International’s role in readying Columbia for the mission, but somehow does not mention that the NASA contract for integrating Spacelab into the shuttle’s systems went to rival McDonnell Douglas (today, also part of Boeing).

The second item this week is a pass that allowed a spectator’s vehicle onto the NASA Causeway to watch the STS-9 launch. Ten kilometres (six miles) from the launch pad, this was the closest that the public could get.

The pass itself is a fluorescent green, which unfortunately my scanner doesn’t capture well.

Copyright information: the brochure is a work of Rockwell International and does not carry a copyright notice. As a work published in the United States prior to 1989 without such a notice, it is in the public domain. The pass is a work of NASA. As a work of the United States federal government, it too is in the public domain.

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