Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
Huntsville's Orbiter for NASA's Fleet
Pathfinder is a 75-ton simulator which was used to practice lifting and handling the real Orbiters. It was originally built at Marshall Space Flight Center in 1977 as a stand-in for Space Shuttle Enterprise to fit-check the roads and facilities that were to be used during the Mated Vertical Ground Vibration Test. In mid-1978, Pathfinder was shipped by barge to Kennedy Space Center where it was used to fit-check the Mate/Demate Device, the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) and the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) platforms. It was also used for ground crew training. In early 1979, Pathfinder was used to rehearse post landing procedures at the Kennedy Shuttle Landing Facility, allowing convoy operations to be accurately simulated. In late 1979, Pathfinder was returned to Marshall Space Flight Center.
After several years in storage, a group of Japanese businessmen expressed interest in obtaining a full-scale Orbiter model for the Great Space Exposition. The Japanese group agreed to pay Teledyne Brown Engineering to modify the Pathfinder to more costly resemble an actual Orbiter. Following display
Length: 120 ft.
Height: 47 ft.
Wing Span: 78 ft.
Weight: 153,000 lbs.
Crew Cabin Volume: 2,325 cu. ft.
Vehicle Attitude: 10 Degrees
Pathfinder Developement: Marshall Center Test Laboratory
Teledyne Brown Engineering
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • War, Cold. A significant historical year for this entry is 1977.
Location. 34° 42.63′ N, 86° 39.128′ W. Marker is in Huntsville, Alabama, in Madison County. Marker can be reached from Tranquility Base, 0.4 miles west of Madison Pike, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Tranquility Base, Huntsville AL 35805, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. External Tank (within shouting distance of this marker); Main Engines (within shouting distance of this marker); T-38 Talon (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Pathfinder Orbiter (about 400 feet away); U.S. Army/NASA Juno II (about 600 feet away); NASA / U.S. Geological Survey (about 700 feet away); U.S. Army PGM-11 Redstone (about 700 feet away); U.S. Air Force SM-65 Atlas-F (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Huntsville.
Also see . . . U.S. Space & Rocket Center. (Submitted on September 22, 2016.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 21, 2016, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 399 times since then and 35 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 21, 2016, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.