the rocket factory

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Flying through the Falcon Factory

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     NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana is busy at work fabricating the USA’s future deep space exploration system. Robotic Weld Tool 2 (shown in the second and third photos) uses friction stir welding to build the hull of the Orion Spacecraft. The piece in the tool is the Orion Confidence Article which underwent testing to insure that the tool and manufacturing processes were ready for operation. At the time this photo was taken, June 30, 20, this machine had welded the hull for the Confidence Article, Ground Test Article (GTA) and Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), which flew successfully on December 5, 2014.

     One of the most leveraged pieces of government property is in use at Michoud; a 1943 metal roller (photo four). The roller was first used in WWII, then built parts for the first stage of the Saturn V Rocket and every Space Shuttle External Tank. The Michoud Machine Shop also houses a press (photo five) adorned with mission patches from each shuttle mission that it served. Now, it is used to bend barrel panels for the SLS core stage propellant tanks. One of these barrel panels rests in front of an oven used for heat treating (photo six). This particular barrel panel is another confidence article.

     The Final Assembly Area (photo seven) is just a small portion of building 103, which houses 42 climate controlled acres under one roof. This enormous facility will continue to build equipment that executes the hopes and dreams of the people on Planet Earth. Big thanks to NASA for allowing Project Habu access to Michoud Assembly Facility.

Imagine superheroes championing causes while they’re not actively in war.

  • Imagine Captain America explaining to the world what being “skinny!Steve” was like, and trying to create safe spaces for people with invisible disabilities. Imagine him creating funds for orphans so that they can be housed in settings that won’t be psychologically damaging. Imagine Steve giving talks to discourage bullying, setting up programs that allow people to explore talents like art that aren’t funded as well in schools, working with the new technology available to better care for people and make it affordable for those who are struggling to get by.

  • Imagine Iron Man using his outfit to create exoskeletons for people who can’t walk, from the elderly to the paralyzed. Imagine his green energy initiative taking down the oil industry. Imagine the factories and rockets and all sorts of tech that were too unwieldy or energy-consuming before that could be created with the help of alternative energies that he helped shoot to the forefront. Imagine Tony talking about PTSD and encouraging people to seek help for mental illnesses, and reminding them that it’s not their fault.

  • Imagine Bruce Banner championing medicine, pushing for safer and better research. Imagine him tearing down the financial boundaries put up that restrict access to journals so that the public could better understand the storehouse of knowledge that has been stuck in academia and never applied. Imagine Bruce making it a point to encourage women into the male-dominated science sphere because some of the cleverest people he knows are women and there should be more of them doing great things. Imagine him teaching people about alternative medicine that he learned in his time abroad in India, from spices to yoga.

  • Imagine Thor bringing the technology of Asgard to Earth and jumpstarting a new renaissance. Imagine him giving people a glimpse of interplanetary and interstellar travel that nobody dared dream of before. Imagine him working the opposite field and reducing the negative attitudes in Asgard against the ‘silly little Midgardians’ so there can be peaceful interaction and coexistence despite their short lifespans. Imagine Thor inspiring a generation of explorers who want to travel as far as humanly possible.

  • Imagine Black Widow, now exposed for her deeds on behalf of various groups and nations, pushing for transparency in all areas, especially megacorporations. Imagine her working to ensure fair reporting and international coverage in the media so that people are not allowed to turn a blind eye to things that happen either domestically or abroad. Imagine Natasha wanting to avoid the publicity of a politician but working behind the scenes to keep lobbyists in line. Imagine her taking a stance against human trafficking and child soldiers, and delving into dubious organizations all over the world to bring those practices to a halt.

  • Imagine Hawkeye becoming a pillar of support for people coming from abusive households. Imagine him opening shelters, running therapy dog programs, finding safe spaces and homes for people. Imagine him telling teens and young adults that it’s okay not to have their life figured out yet, and encouraging people to take on employees that don’t have typical education or training. Imagine Clint talking about deafness and reaching out to the community to help reduce discrimination and help those who are not deaf not just accommodate but integrate with them. Imagine him finding out about the Hawkeye Initiative and claiming it a thousand percent and bashing sexism and gender roles.

  • Imagine Falcon as the newest addition to the team, working to find all veterans proper care so that the trend of homelessness ends and they can be supported through grief and loss and any post-trauma issues they may have. Imagine him tackling racial issues and discrimination against people of color in politics, in the workplace, in the media, in any way he can. Imagine him being the first of the superheroes to come out at as bisexual and champion the movement for LGBT+ justice and equality, only to have others join in and help.

Imagine the world becoming a better place because of superheroes, and not just through fighting various threats from villains or aliens.

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Elon Musk gives behind the scenes look at SpaceX’s Falcon rocket factory.
An earlier tweet gave an update on Musk’s plan to make humanity “a space-bearing civilization and a multi-planetary species” by colonizing Mars. Although it provides insight into his logic and initial ideas, Musk did reveal that there are “Major changes to the plan coming soon.”

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     Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.

     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.