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Airplanes are returning — temporarily, at least — to their former role of transporting America's huge missile components to Cape Canaveral for launching.
NASA has signed a contract with Aerc Spacelines, Inc., of Van Nuys, California for the use of a B-337 (PG) aircraft with a specially enlarged body section to transport Saturn rocket stages from Santa Monica California to Canaveral. The 12-hour plane flight will replace the 3-week ocean trip via the Panama Canal.
The plane is a Boeing Stratocruiser outfitted just for the job of transporting the Saturn S-IV stage, which is 18 feet in diameter and 40 feet in length. The fuselage parts into two sections to accommodate the big booster.
In addition to the Santa Monica-Canaveral service, the same plane will be used to transport other missile components around the country by air.
Shippers are only slightly alarmed for the moment. Even though the B-37′ (only one of its kind) can handle this assignment, the rocket stages continue to grow in size and will require movement by water in most instances.
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