Pathfinder shuttle lifted off external tank at U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Pathfinder fuselage takedown SOURCE: U.S. Space & Rocket Center

HUNSVILLE, Ala. (WBRC) - A big step in a big restoration project at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Monday, the Pathfinder shuttle orbiter was moved off the external tank, where it has been on display for more than 30 years.

After weeks of preparation, two cranes lifted the 127,000-pound shuttle test article to the ground in Shuttle Park.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Pathfinder Restoration Project will be a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project.

The Rocket Center received a Save America’s Treasures grant for $500,000 from the National Park Service in August, and matching donations from several sources gave the Center the money to begin the project.

The next step will be for the Rocket Center to work with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to evaluate the interior structure of the orbiter.

The Pathfinder shuttle stack was erected at the Rocket Center in 1988, and it has remained the only full-stack shuttle exhibit in the world since that time. The property of Marshall Space Flight Center, Pathfinder was originally used as a heavy-lift article to test handling, transportation and other procedures for the Space Transportation System, also known as the space shuttle.

Pathfinder is a name NASA gives to articles used to test infrastructure and logistics for its programs.

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