Pathfinder (Honorary Designation: OV-098)
The Pathfinder is a 75 ton Orbiter simulator that was created to work out the procedures for moving and handling the shuttle. It was a steel structure roughly the size, weight and shape of an orbiter. It was constructed at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in 1977 and was used as a stand in for Enterprise to test roads and cranes. Pathfinder was shipped by barge to KSC and was used for ground crew testing in the VAB , OPF and SLF. It was then returned to MSFC.
Pathfinder sat in storage for many years until a group of Japanese businessmen offered to spend $1,000,000 to modify the vehicle to more closely resemble a real orbiter. They used it at the “Great Space Shuttle Exposition in Tokyo, Japan.
After the expo, it was returned to MSFC and now is on permanent display at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama. It is on a specal platform and mounted to the Main Propulsion Test Article (MPTA) External Tank used for early tanking tests.