Leading a Space-Shuttle Dance Through Streets Of L.A.
Senior project manager Roberto Ramirez made the surveying and engineering community and his company, Cordoba Corp., proud in October when the Space Shuttle Endeavor rolled through the streets of Los Angeles in a beautifully choreographed dance through a maze of obstacles before an audience of millions.
Cordoba's pro bono role was to plan, identify the obstructions and execute the transport. Ramirez's inspired solution was to ask surveyor David Evans and Associates to use mobile laser-scanning technology to capture the geometry of the 12-mile route in high-definition 3D. Then, the team moved a polygon, which represented the spaceship, through the enormous volume of data to run clash detection and determine what it would take in equipment, maneuvering and obstruction removal to roll an 80-ft-wide, 60-ft-tall, 122-ft-long object on four self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) through L.A.
"We took their scan and ran our buffer to determine the number of obstacles," Ramirez says. The shuttle length was a factor at turns, which also were modeled and led to the use of SPMTs over a towed system, he says. "There was no other way to field-walk it and pick up everything," he adds. "It would just take forever."
It also would have been impossible to do a conventional survey without tipping off the plan, which needed to stay secret for security. The truck-mounted scanning equipment captured the data surreptitiously all in one day.
"What could be more ingenious than having a laser plan for moving that object?" says Eugene Brymer, staff executive of the International Association of Structural Movers and the editor of Structural Mover magazine. "I doubt anybody knew they were doing it.