In a variation of the “garbage in…garbage out” warning about computers, your correspondent sometimes likes to jest that while the excellent Seradata SpaceTrak launch and satellite database is “idiot proof”…it is not “blithering idiot proof!”. Actually, others wisely use the assumption of potential idiocy for the operation of space and aeronautical systems.

As pointed out by the nonsense girl blog, those charged with transporting the Space Shuttle orbiter between locations on the back of a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (Reg No. N905NA) used this concept as they helpfully (and admittedly jokingly) put some advice on the rear strut, which carried the Space Shuttle load. The instructions read: “Attach orbiter here. Black side down”. Another of the struts added the tightening instruction: “Lefty loosey, righty tighty”.

Space Shuttle Atlantis on top of its carrier aircraft with the rear attachment point arrowed. Courtesy: NASA


The rear strut with helpful instructions. Courtesy: wikipedia

It must have worked. No Space Shuttle orbiter was ever attached to the Boeing 747 carrier aircraft upside down. Nor did it ever fall off.