By Larry Kidder | Doug Veirs (left), founder and owner of Devco Sandblasting & Industrial Coating, Inc., is joined by Richard Wysong, MBA (right), LLU Drayson Center facilities manager, in front of the top section of a shuttle booster rocket, known as a "frustum."
If you were traveling on the Interstate 10 Freeway, just east of the I-215 interchange, you may have noticed what looked like parts of space vehicles in a business lot just south of the freeway. That's what happened for Richard Wysong, LLU Drayson Center facilities manager. However, he was already acquainted with the business and simply had to ask the owner, Doug Viers, if his suspicions were true.
You see, Devco has been serving Loma Linda University Health for decades and just finished sandblasting and painting the waterslide at Drayson Center. Devco also painted the helipads for the newest hospital tower, among many other projects for LLUH.
Much to Richard's surprise, Doug informed him that these were indeed among the 50 complete sets of boosters, built for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) six space shuttles, for a price tag of $50 billion.
The first shuttle, Constitution, was later renamed Enterprise and was only used to test the "glidability" of the space shuttle design. The Challenger and Columbia shuttles and their crews were lost—the first during launch and the latter during reentry. Discovery is located at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and Atlantis at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
These particular parts—the "frustum" which serves as the nose cone for the boosters, and the "forward skirt" which sits atop the solid booster rocket just above the three parachutes—were being prepared for a display of the space shuttle Endeavor at the California Space Center located in Los Angeles at Exposition Park. Devco has also been tasked with blasting and painting the steel supports that will lift the shuttle and support it.
Two "frustums" sit atop the booster rockets, just above the three parachutes that were deployed to allow NASA to recover and reuse the booster assembly.
A Devco employee prepares to move the forward skirt, using a large fork truck. The finished parts were on their way to Exposition Park on Monday, June 5.
Devco is nationally recognized as a leader in large-scale painting projects. A recent project involved preparing and painting the roof supports in SoFi Stadium in Englewood. Doug and his team devised a method for painting hundreds of steel support beams and lifting them into place without damaging the finish—which had already occurred during the initial shipment.
NASA flew 130 space shuttle missions over three decades. The booster parts refinished by Devco were used during nine missions and reached speeds of 17,000 miles per hour.