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Lifting Off in Los Angeles With Liebherr Cranes

Mon April 29, 2024 - West Edition
Liebherr


The Liebherr 1750 crawler crane had 1,466,000.00 lbs. of counterweight, a tip height of approximately 395 ft. and a max radius of approximately 151 ft.
Photo courtesy of Liebherr
The Liebherr 1750 crawler crane had 1,466,000.00 lbs. of counterweight, a tip height of approximately 395 ft. and a max radius of approximately 151 ft.
The Liebherr 1750 crawler crane had 1,466,000.00 lbs. of counterweight, a tip height of approximately 395 ft. and a max radius of approximately 151 ft.   (Photo courtesy of Liebherr) Bragg Companies completed the full Endeavour space shuttle stack to simulate a real- life launch position in a new building at the CA Science Center called the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.   (Photo courtesy of Liebherr) Bragg created 20 engineered plans generated with over 1,400-man hours spent on this lift.   (Photo courtesy of Liebherr) Endeavour’s stack will remain covered by scaffolding, additional plywood and Kevlar fabric throughout the duration of the Air and Space Center construction process.   (Photo courtesy of Liebherr)

Simulating a real-life launch position, Bragg Companies utilized multiple Liebherr cranes to stack all flight certified components of the 20-story Endeavour space shuttle at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center within the California Science Center.

This is the world's only authentic space shuttle system displayed in launch configuration.

The space shuttle Endeavour flew 25 missions and has inspired roughly 20 million guests from around the world since arriving at the California Science Center in October of 2012. The 122-ft.-long orbiter weighs 178,000 lbs., and has a wingspan of 78 ft.

With more than 6,000-man hours, including two years of pre-construction engineering and lift planning, Bragg Companies completes the full Endeavour space shuttle stack to simulate a real life launch position in the new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. The Oschin building was partially developed prior to stacking all orbiter launch flight components, and it will be completed around the erected launch display.

The full stack includes the Endeavour shuttle as well as two solid rocket boosters each consisting of an aft skirt at the base, a 116 ft. solid rocket motor and a forward assembly on top. The largest component of the stack is a 154 ft. external fuel tank. The roughly six-month stack process began in July 2023 with the installation of the aft skirts and was completed in January 2024.

"With the lift and setting of the Endeavour, we have successfully completed the last-ever space shuttle stack. This is a dream over 30 years in the making, and a feat that has never before been accomplished outside of a NASA or Air Force facility," said Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the California Science Center.

Setting the Shuttle

Photo courtesy of Liebherr

Bragg Companies completed the full Endeavour space shuttle stack to simulate a real- life launch position in a new building at the CA Science Center called the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

Bragg used approximately five cranes across each of the lifts. The Liebherr LR 1750/2 crawler crane was onsite full time with frequent occurrences from various hydraulic truck cranes working concurrently throughout the duration of the project to perform various tasks. The Liebherr LR 1750 crawler crane had 1,466,000.00 lbs. of counterweight, a tip height of approximately 395 ft. and a max radius of approximately 151 ft.

"The Liebherr LR 1750's capability of electronically limiting the hoist and swing speed was vital to the success of the lifts due to the extremely tight tolerances in the pit and constant wind speed variables at the tip height," said Justin Lambert, general manager of Bragg Crane & Rigging. "When flying priceless NASA artifacts such as the Endeavour and its ancillary support items, it is comforting knowing you have the quality, efficiency and pinpoint accuracy of a Liebherr built product behind you."

To kick off the stack process, Bragg loaded and transported the aft skirts from Mojave, Calif., to Los Angeles, Calif., and then utilized the Liebherr LR 1750 crawler crane to lift and set the skirts. The company then used the crawler crane and the Liebherr LTM 1160 mobile crane to lift, upend and set the solid rocket motors as well as upend and set the external tank into final position.

The largest piece to maneuver was the Endeavour orbiter. After a difficult transport process, the Endeavour was lifted, upended, and set inside the new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center building using the Liebherr LR 1750 crawler crane with the support of the Liebherr LTM 1400 mobile crane and LTM 1160 mobile crane.

The most challenging part of the stack was attaching the external tank to Endeavour. Placing the tank was arduous as it had to be threaded down through the scaffolding without contacting anything else due to its entire outer layer being foam. Additionally, the tight tolerances of the mating points to the solid rocket boosters made the lift and set difficult.

After almost 14 hours of work the Endeavour was fully detached from the crane and sling, and the final mating of the space shuttle to the external tank and two solid rocket boosters was complete.

Overcoming Obstacles

Photo courtesy of Liebherr

Bragg created 20 engineered plans generated with over 1,400-man hours spent on this lift.

A project of this magnitude requires precise lift planning months ahead of time. There were approximately 20 engineered plans generated with over 1,400-man hours spent on this lift. However, even with meticulous planning, Bragg had to overcome multiple challenges including tight working areas and weather.

During various lifts, high winds and rain affected the team when picking and setting the units into the new building. Due to the sheer size of the flight components and their large surface areas, all lifting needed to occur in minimal wind conditions. The least amount of wind was during the early hours of the morning, so the company worked through many nights to complete these complex lifts. Throughout these challenges, the project was completed with zero first aids, incidents or recordables.

Bragg Companies operates on the same set of standards as it did from its first day in business. The crane, rigging and heavy haul company operates in all 50 states and remains a leader in the crane, heavy construction, equipment and transportation industries.

Launchpad of Innovation

Photo courtesy of Liebherr

Endeavour's stack will remain covered by scaffolding, additional plywood and Kevlar fabric throughout the duration of the Air and Space Center construction process.

Construction of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, a major expansion of the California Science Center and Endeavour's permanent home, began in 2022 and will continue around the 20-story shuttle display. Endeavour's stack will remain covered by scaffolding, additional plywood and Kevlar fabric throughout the duration of the Air and Space Center construction process.

The future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center will serve as a launchpad for creativity and innovation to inspire future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers. The 200,000-sq.-ft. expansion will nearly double the California Science Center's educational exhibition space, adding an impressive collection of 100 authentic artifacts integrated with 100 new hands-on exhibits.

This story also appears on Crane Equipment Guide.




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