Edwards to Dismantle Icon of the Manned Space Program

An iconic structure at Edwards AFB, Calif., that is symbolic of the glory years of NASA’s manned space program, is about to be dismantled and turned into scrap. The towering structure, called the Mate-Demate Device, was used to service a space shuttle that had to land at Edwards after a space mission, then lift the space ship to mount it atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for a return flight to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Built in 1976 for $1.7 million, the device was used 59 times from 1977 to its last shuttle lift in 2009. After a study of possible alternative use, the MDD structure is being dismantled under a $178,700 contract, three years after the last shuttle mission ended the US manned space program launched in 1961 by then-President John F. Kennedy. “People at this base know that the MDD has definitely become a part of the landscape. When you drive onto the base, it’s one of the landmarks you see, and it will leave a hole in your heart when it’s gone,” David McBride, NASA Armstrong Center director, said in release.