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Businesses Hardware Hacking Space Build

A Space Junkyard 94

Today's Los Angeles Times has an article about a North Hollywood junkyard that stocks a huge quantity of used aerospace parts, from valves to rocket engines. Norton Sales Inc. got started in the early 1960s. The junkyard had fallen on hard times, with the collapse of the Los Angeles-area aerospace economy in the 1980s, but it's making something of a comeback now with NASA's new plans for moon and Mars missions. The customers used to be rich Hollywood types; nowadays they are as likely to be private space entrepreneurs. "It's dangerous coming to a place like this," said Dave Masten of Masten Space. "It's like shopping on an empty stomach."
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A Space Junkyard

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  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @03:17PM (#18480533) Journal
    Also, an hour out of town there's the junkyard associated with the Planes of Fame [planesoffame.org] aircraft museum. You walk around half-dismantled F-4's and F-14's and check out parts.

    The most LA part of the article, though, is "Some of its best customers have also been car customizers looking for cheap, spaceflight-grade hydraulic valves." LOW-RI-DER!

  • film industry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @03:30PM (#18480601)
    Norton has always been popular with the film industry. I think back in it's heyday a good share of the profits came from selling to film companies. Unfortunately they got a double hit because as the Aerospace industry cranked down the film industry got nailed with runaway production so most of that went out of country. C&H was another good surplus company. There used to be half a dozen good ones in the LA area but I know several have gone under. I haven't lived in LA for five years so I don't know who is still in business. People underestimate the film industry. I know of several dental houses and medical supply places that sold more product to the film industry than their regular doctors and dentists. I remember one company stopped selling to us becuase we were cleaning them out all the time and they weren't able to supply the hospitals.
  • by LarsG ( 31008 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @03:41PM (#18480667) Journal
    That is also such a marvelous example of the high moral standard of the Jedi.
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday March 25, 2007 @03:42PM (#18480673) Homepage

    I'm a Toydarian, mind tricks don't work on me.

    First draft of the script probably read, "I'm a lame and creepy stereotype of a dirty foreigner like other alien races in this film, in my case an Italian, mind tricks don't work on me."

  • Re:Wow.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by linoleumcp ( 575039 ) <linoleum@pobox.OPENBSDcom minus bsd> on Sunday March 25, 2007 @04:20PM (#18480909)
    You can't buy a turbopump from a J-2 at Fry's. While you wouldn't want to use them, parts like that are very...instructional. I seem to recall SpaceX scoring a gimbal mechanism out of there that was an interesting reference piece.
  • article punchline (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:05PM (#18481241) Journal
    You got to love this bit

    Although Guzman said his business is doing well with the new commercial space boom, there are still challenges, especially since 9/11.Tougher export rules prevent him from selling much of his stock overseas. It's no longer easy to obtain old rocket parts, either. "This stuff is tough to get nowadays," he said.

    Even before the attacks on the twin towers in New York, Guzman said he had to be wary. He recalled getting a visit from the FBI after one of Norton's customers put a Peacekeeper missile motor up for sale on EBay.

    Where, the agents asked, did you get that particular piece of equipment?

    "We bought it from the government," came the reply.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10