MarineMax recently shrink-wrapped a spacecraft for NASA. According to the Houston Chronicle, five MarineMax technicians from its Houston operations helped prepare an Orion crew module to be transported from Houston to Sandusky, Ohio, where it took part in an acoustic test.
Part of the multibillion-dollar Orion project, NASA figured that the best way to protect the 35,000-lb. vehicle was to shrink-wrap it. MarineMax has plenty of experience wrapping boats for cross-country deliveries, so the spaceship seemed well within the company’s skill sets.
"It was cool and unexpected," said Billy Foulkes, MarineMax Houston service adviser, told the paper.
Foulkes was joined in the project by fellow MarineMax Houston service team members Jose Vasquez, Sheila Pogue, Michael Melancon and Benjamin Bodin.
Vasquez told the paper that the team practiced wrapping techniques and boat parts around the Houston office. The spaceship required eight hours and three rolls of shrink wrap that measured 25 x 75 feet.
The shrink wrappers first created a cap to cover the top of the Orion module to protect it from exposure. They then used a cherry-picker to lift pre-cut shrink wrap up and over the Orion, down the other side and back around the bottom. They repeated this process several times until it was completely wrapped.
Foulkes said NASA engineers were involved through the whole operation, at one point voicing concerns about too much heat being used in the process. "They were very meticulous," said Foulkes.
Pogue, a parts consultant at MarineMax, said the experience was meaningful for her, because she is the granddaughter of William Pogue, a pilot and astronaut. William Pogue was part of NASA’s Apollo program in the 1960s and he later piloted the Skylab 4, spending 84 days in space.