The final flight of Space Shuttle Discovery and its preparation crew is the subject of an upcoming special episode of Speed Channel series American Trucker.
Premiering June 9 at 10 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. PDT, the season finale takes an inside look at the trucking team readying every Shuttle mission for takeoff. American Trucker returns for a second season in July.
With lives on the line, the pre-launch truck parade is one of the most critical operations NASA undertakes prior to each mission. American Trucker cameras are alongside the crew as they prepare for this famous space craft’s final voyage.
Vintage 1969 Peterbilt trucks commissioned by President John F. Kennedy are a major part of the episode’s focus. Still in operation today, these 40-year-old machines are innovative enough to maintain a high level of service throughout the many space projects undertaken over the years.
“Peterbilts are ground dwellers,” said host Robb Mariani (pictured with one of the trucks), “yet have been helping American astronauts launch into outer space for decades. As important as space exploration is to NASA, they could not get to their destination, nor return without the ground work that these great trucks have done throughout the years.”
“They were funded by John F. Kennedy, built and they are still there,” said Bud Brutsman, executive producer of Brentwood Communications International Inc., which produces the show. “These trucks have watched the moon walk, and now they are involved in the last launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. They have had many roles over the years.
“Whether it’s the oxygen truck that supplies the air, the water or the cleaning truck that comes in, these trucks are huge and play a very vital role. Almost every single truck is specially manufactured to do some kind of job for the Space Shuttle because of its weight, height, how it’s transported out and how it’s picked up.”
But the space program – and the series’ final episode – isn’t just about trucks, Brutsman notes. “It’s the people that drive, build and operate these massive vehicles on a daily basis that make the difference. These guys are very proud, but it’s also very sad right now, as the shuttles are getting mothballed.”