April 30, 2012 08:56 AM
Working with the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Space Shuttle Enterprise - Willis Bretz

With all the news about Discovery’s journey to its new home and the space shuttle swap, I’ve been thinking a lot about how fortunate I was in the summer of 2004. In 2004, I landed a three month long summer internship at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center. ┬áLocated right next Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, VA, the hanger-like museum houses some of the most famous air and spacecraft like Lockheed’s SR-71 Blackbird, the Enola Gay, and now the Space Shuttle Discovery.

During my internship, my main responsibility was to photographically document the restoration process of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. Working along side NASA technicians, I photographed the process of removing windows from the shuttle’s cockpit to be used in stress tests. I also climbed scaffolding around the shuttle and photographed restoration specialists as they prepared and sanded it for a new coat of paint. As a young person still in college, this was a very exciting and thrilling experience.

To this day, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to document this small part of history. Sitting in the cockpit of a space shuttle and working with NASA employees will always be one of the highlights of my life. Enjoy the Space Shuttle Enterprise New York. She’s a beauty and holds a special place in my heart.

Space Shuttle Enterprise - Willis BretzNASA technicians working to remove windows from Enterprise’s cockpit for stress testing.

Space Shuttle Enterprise - Willis BretzInside Enterprise’s cockpit

Space Shuttle Enterprise - Willis BretzInside the main cargo bay of Enterprise