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650 tons of American history find final resting place at ECDC

Two cranes gingerly hoist and move a cylinder from the rail car.

By JOHN SERFUSTINI
Sun Advocate associate editor

Section by gigantic section, pieces of the nation's Space Shuttle program were laid to rest last week at the ECDC Environmental landfill in East Carbon.

When assembled, the cylinders once made up a full-scale, full-weight mock-up of the shuttle's reusable solid rocket motor. In all, the RSRM was about 126 feet high and 12 feet in diameter, weighing in at about 1.3 million pounds. These were the motors that were attached to either side of the main body, providing a combined thrust of about 5.3 million pounds for the first two minutes of the launch..

Aerospace manufacturer ATK built the model more than 30 years ago so that assembly and transport machines at NASA could be designed to exact tolerances for handling the real things.

Instead of being filled with real solid fuel, though, these parts are filled with an inert compound that weighs the same. The landfill has no problem accepting what has now become non-hazardous waste, said ECDC manager Jeff Green.

It took two heavy-lifting Wagstaff Crane Co. cranes to move each cylinder from the rail car to a truck bed that hauled them up to the working face at the landfill.

At the face, they were rolled into a trench and covered with dirt.




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