Is this "Attach Orbiter Here / Note: Black Side Down" sign on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft real?



I found this image online, but is it a real message? Space Shuttle on 747 transport plane, showing the mounting on the 747, on which the words are stencilled 'Attach Orbiter Here, Black Side Down'


Posted 2017-09-13T23:59:17.450

Reputation: 940



I believe it's real, just a little bit of fun.

The Wikipedia article on the SCA states it as fact, as do other historical articles.

Search engines will lead you to multiple pictures of the attach points from different angles, all showing the label, for example:

shuttle carrier attachment pylon photographed from a low angle

It looks like an earlier version of the label, since painted over and replaced, was even sillier:

enter image description here

"Lefty Loosy, Righty Tighty" being a well-known mnemonic for which way to turn standard-threaded mechanical screws and bolts.

Russell Borogove

Posted 2017-09-13T23:59:17.450

Reputation: 57 784

23I like the fact that there's a sense of humor at NASA.GdD 2017-09-14T08:27:53.020

Russell, if you look closely at your 1st pic you will see the 2nd bolt on the right is anti-locked, unless its a left hand thread which I doubt...Bernard Smith 2017-09-14T10:21:11.253

@BernardSmith I don't know about the bolts themselves, but the wire "lock" does basically nothing. A tech may have just ignored the wire and re-tightened the bolt at some point, leaving it to look like it was clocked in the wrong position for a right handed bolt.Aaron 2017-09-14T15:51:06.977


It's real!

Here are some pictures I took on April 29, 2014 as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (N905NA) was being moved from Ellington Field to its final resting place at Space Center Houston.

You can see the label as I zoom in (and walk down the railroad tracks) in the series of pictures, especially if you view them full size.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

Organic Marble

Posted 2017-09-13T23:59:17.450

Reputation: 34 437

2That was a neat process to witness. I saw it from Clear Lake City Blvd at Hwy 3, later at night, and seeing this 747 roll out of radiation fog while the wireline crews moved traffic signals and power lines out of the way was a real trip. Though I wish I'd joined friends to see it the next night (I think?) from the roof of Franca's.Erin Anne 2017-09-14T19:31:34.160

I would have preferred a real Orbiter to the fake one, but a real SCA is not a bad consolation prize!Organic Marble 2017-09-14T19:43:15.570

1Fake orbiter makes me feel less bad about our habit of leaving things outside :)Erin Anne 2017-09-14T19:46:29.230

Thanks for the answer. Great to see photos you took yourself, but I accepted the other answer due to the historical angle as well.Baldrickk 2017-09-18T14:51:09.060

Thanks for the interesting question @Baldrickk. When I get this many votes on an answer, the acceptance is almost irrelevant!Organic Marble 2017-09-18T15:02:38.827


It's real. I took the original photo of the message that you posted, at the Edwards AFB open day. I have the original image from which this crop was taken (right down to the lens flare over the fastener!). Good humor!

Open day at Edwards Air Force base October 2006. Just to show I was in proximity.enter image description here

Original photo from which the crop was taken to Wikipedia. If you look closely you will see the lens flare over the fastener, same as in the crop. Lighting direction and quality exactly the same etc.

Also, here's the wikipedia discussion, similar to what you are having here . . .

enter image description here

Rob Elliott

Posted 2017-09-13T23:59:17.450

Reputation: 21

2No offense, but anyone can write this. Any proof?Jan Doggen 2018-02-14T15:24:49.463

3Oh nice. Can you link the image? The original source is about as good as you can get.Baldrickk 2018-02-14T17:09:26.103