The space shuttle program came to an end in 2011, but science historians around the country are creating displays of retired shuttles with the help of storage detectives like Dennis Jenkins. A 30-year-plus NASA employee who spent his entire career sending shuttles into space, Jenkins was recruited by the California Science Center to oversee the preparation of the museum’s shuttle exhibit. The mothballed shuttle was missing quite a few pieces when it arrived in Los Angeles, and Jenkins began tracking down parts to complete the exhibit.
He was faced with a daunting task. Budget cuts had forced NASA to reduce its storage, and shuttle parts – 1 million parts, ranging from nuts and bolts to complete engines – had been stashed in government facilities and scrap yards across the U.S. Jenkins had to rely on the memories of a network of former NASA workers to help locate missing pieces scattered from Utah to Washington D.C. Writing in the L.A.Times, Kate Mathers reveals the outcome of Jenkins’ search.
We can only imagine how much easier his job would have been if well-organized high density storage systems had been part of the shuttle program.
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