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11. 2013

Space Shuttle Enterprise goes on its last journey

A rare distinction for Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft of Memmingen, Germany: The world’s leading supplier of transportation equipment for the heavy-haulage industry was chosen to provide the transport for the last journey of the legendary US Space Shuttle Enterprise. The US space agency NASA turned to Goldhofer’s customer Bay Crane of New York to move the Space Shuttle from JFK International Airport to its retirement home, namely the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York. Bay Crane, one of the biggest crane service companies and heavy haulage specialists in the US, again placed its trust in Goldhofer’s innovative THP/SL heavy-duty modular trailer system to handle such a valuable load.

The Enterprise traveled by road on Goldhofer axles for just under a mile before being loaded onto a barge for the journey up the Hudson River to the floating museum in the form of the retired aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. Bay Crane handled the project with a bold solution that greatly impressed the experts: “In the last thirty years, Space Shuttles have frequently been loaded with the help of cranes. We were the first to handle the loading and offloading with just a single crane. That’s something we are very proud of,” says Kenny Bernardo, Vice President Operations at Bay Crane.

A Boeing 747 carrier aircraft first gave the Space Shuttle a piggyback ride to JFK International Airport. With the help of a specially developed lift frame, the Bay Crane team safely loaded the big bird onto the Goldhofer axle lines. With a deadweight of 70 tons, an overall length of 37.24 meters, a wingspan of almost 24 meters and a total wing area of almost 250 square meters, the Enterprise was an impressive sight on the journey overland. “You can always trust a Goldhofer system and we played safe with our Goldhofer heavy-duty axle configuration,” Kenny Bernardo explains. A total of 24 THP/SL axle lines and a 230-ton low-profile deck were used to move the retired Space Shuttle from the airport to the Hudson River.

“For us, the Space Shuttle assignment is the crowning moment in our successful history. Our THP/SL heavy duty modules have taken the industry by storm and are rightly seen as the world’s most reliable heavy-duty axles. The fact that our customers consistently go for the Goldhofer standard of quality for such prestigious projects is the best reference we could have,” says Stefan Fuchs, CEO of Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft.

Bay Crane of New York and Goldhofer of Memmingen enjoy a long-standing partnership. “We have handled plenty of contracts with Kenny and his team, and together we have mastered all the challenges. We seem to spur each other on to still greater achievements,” says Horst Häfele, Goldhofer Sales Director Heavy Duty Modules.

The Space Shuttle program (with the help of Wikipedia)

The Space Shuttle operated by the US space agency NASA first traveled into space in 1981 on the first of 135 flights. Two of the orbiters were lost in mission accidents  (Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003), in which a total of fourteen astronauts lost their lives. The orbiter could carry a payload of 24.5 tons plus seven astronauts into low Earth orbit (orbit altitude between 200 and 650 kilometers). The Space Shuttle was fitted with docking adapters to permit docking with space stations. Following the last Apollo mission in 1975, the Space Shuttle was the only way the United States could undertake manned space missions using its own resources. The last flight of a Space Shuttle took place in the middle of 2011. A successor is being developed in the form of the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV). Two unmanned flights are planned for 2014 and 2017, to be followed by the first manned fight in 2019 at the earliest.

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