January 24th, 2009

South Pole Station, Antarctica
Chuck Kimball's
Austral Summer 2009-2010

New Zealand, McMurdo and South Pole - Current Time

The Dome is Gone

In the early 1970's the Navy Seabees constructed the 'dome' to house the second US Station at the south pole. It was the icon for the people that did any work at the pole, and the symbol of the South Pole Station for over 20 years. When I was last at the Pole in 2001, the new station was under construction, but most of the operations were still under the dome.

The program had outgrown the space in the dome, and maintenance to keep the dome from getting completely buried continued to increase.

The new station is an elevated design that was supposed to let the snow blown under it and not have to deal with the drifting that was continuing to bury the dome. That hasn't quite worked out as planned either.

Here's a two page fact sheet NSF put together about the deconstruction.

Here is a great page of the dome construction from Bill Spindler's excellent South Pole Station website. If the pole station is your interest it's well worth the time to look around all of his Site.

So after several years of talks, and efforts to save the dome, or relocate, it was decided that it needed to come down this year. My understanding is that the top portion is going to be preserved to become part of an exhibit at the SeaBee museum in California. The remainder has been shipped off, and NSF will determine later where it will end up.

I started chronicling the 'deconstruction'. They had started moving the snow from around the dome when I arrived, and by the time I got out there before it became a closed construction area, they had already removed the arches that connected the Skylab building and the dome.

November 28th, 2009

They had already excavated down to the original foundation.

Several of the old Satellite & VHF antennas were still in place

Skylab was already isolated, and would start to come down Monday morning.
The dome itself was not heated, and the holes in the roof allowed moisture to escape.
It seemed so much smaller than I recalled from my week stay in 2001. The buildings filled most all of the floor space.

An example of the foundation after nearly 30 years.

A mistake in clearing the snow outside allows you to see how thin the aluminum sheets that held back the snow were.

One of the emergency escape hatches in case the main arch became unusable.

The remainder of these will mostly be shot from the galley as it's disassembled.

November 29th, 2009

December 3rd, 2009

December 5th, 2009

December 8th, 2009

December 9th, 2009   Skylab is coming down.

December 9th, 2009   The door removed to get a crane inside, and other panels removed.

December 10th, 2009   Skylab keeps getting shorter.

December 13th, 2009   Skylab is shorter, and the riggers have removed most of the old HF towers that stood behind the station.

December 15th, 2009

December 16th, 2009   Skylab is gone.

December 16th, 2009   A portion of the South Pole Traverse arriving with the dome in the background.

December 18th, 2009   The first panels removed from the top of the dome.

December 24th, 2009   A little bit more.

December 26th, 2009   During the race around the world.

December 26th, 2009   During the race around the world.

December 30th, 2009   The hole is growing.

January 5th, 2010   and growing.

January 6th, 2010   Just one day later.

January 14th, 2010   A week later and not much left.

January 15th, 2010   We gathered for a final photo shoot before the last section is removed.
I managed to catch the twin otter flyover as we were gathering.

January 15th, 2010   The official photo. (Click on the photo for the higher resolution - 15Mb)

I'm in the back row near the right side (red hat with yellow moon on it).     NSF Photo by Forest Banks

January 16th, 2010   the next morning.

If you haven't had a enough dome photos yet, here is a pdf file that one of my co-workers did. He's a great photographer, and was working on site, so got a lot better shots during the deconstruction. Thanks Ryan.

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