Even though special effects and superstars get top billing in most blockbuster movies, very little of what you see on the silver screen would be possible if not for the set designers and costume designers working when the camera isn’t rolling. These artists use fabric and makeup and wood and steel to create visual imagery that immerses the viewer in the experience. The painters on these crews are responsible not just for painting sets a specific color, but also for enhancing light and shadow, providing depth, and – above all – taking fake structures and objects and making them real.
As you might imagine, much of the construction, design, and deployment of NASA’s space shuttle is unique and without precedent. Each implementation of technology in the space program is, quite often, the first time such an implementation has occurred. NASA’s cutting edge research and development also gives scientists a chance to try bold new things in bold new ways. One challenge NASA scientists must address for every object sent into space is how to handle the massive temperature fluctuations between outer-space and the earth’s atmosphere. Just as significant is the substantial heat and surface friction that spacecraft encounter as they re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and temperatures reach nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Protecting astronauts, cargo, and the spacecraft themselves is a core objective within NASA’s ranks.
Do you know how long it takes to paint the Statue of Liberty? Any guess as to how many gallons of paint are required to paint the iconic statue that has welcomed millions to the shores of America? Is it painted with brushes, sprayers, rollers? How often is the Statue of Liberty painted? Do you know already? Care to wager a guess? The answers are as follows….
No time at all…zero…none of the above…and never.
That’s right, the outside of the Statue of Liberty isn’t painted at all! It’s coated in a layer of copper that’s a little less than 1/8th of an inch thick. Cleaned on occasion? Absolutely. Painted? Never.
While paint may not be a common topic of conversation when it comes to famous landmarks, that’s definitely not the case with the Golden Gate Bridge. In the case of this iconic bridge, everyone has a tidbit to share regarding the herculean task of maintaining its signature color on such a massive scale:
“The Golden Gate Bridge is painted end to end each year!” Not true. In fact, the current Maintenance Supervisor says that painting the bridge from end to end would take his team of 11 most of their career to accomplish.
“The Golden Gate Bridge was originally to be painted gold, but the planners ordered the wrong color.” Not true either. The Army wanted the bridge painted with black and yellow stripes so it could be seen through the dense fog by ships. The Air Force wanted the bridge painted red and white like a candy cane so it could be more easily seen by airplanes passing over it. Ultimately, the color was decided by the original designer, who thought the magnificence of the structure deserved a unique color.
“The Golden Gate Bridge’s paint color and formula are closely guarded secrets!” Also not true. The paint color is actually based on the anti-corrosion primer that came on the original steel and is known as “International Orange.” The specific formula is available on the bridge’s website and through Sherwin Williams, the manufacturer of the paint itself. More…