Friday, April 17, 2009

Live At KSC: Second Shuttle To Be Unveiled

LIVE IMAGES: Refresh this page for updates and the latest still image from a live video feed at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, where Atlantis is being prepped for launch.

Blogger Udate 12:55 p.m.: A trio of NASA T-38 training jets are zooming through space center airspace on launch pad flybys.

NASA is preparing to roll back a giant service gantry at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, a move that will mark the last time shuttles are clearly visible on both of NASA's twin shuttle launch pads.

The 104-foot-tall Rotating Service Structure is scheduled to back away from Atlantis at pad 39A at 1 p.m., and you can check it out right here in The Flame Trench.

Continuously refresh this page to get the latest still image from a live video feed at the pad, and you should see what amounts to sequential still video of the rollback, which is expected to take about 45 minutes to complete. The image should refresh every 45 to 90 seconds.

You can also "save as is" on your computer to build up a collection of NASA screen grabs as the tower moves away from the vehicle.

A half-mile to the north, Endeavour is perched on pad 39B, where it is being readied to launch on a rescue mission if serious damage is done to Atlantis during its May 12 launch on NASA's fifth and final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

Endeavour rolled out to pad 39B overnight, departing High Bay No. 1 of the landmark Vehicle Assembly Building at 11:57 p.m. Thursday and arriving at the oceanside complex as dawn broke over Florida's Space Coast.

You can see and save a collection of rollout photos in the post below. They all were taken by award-winning Florida Today photographer Michael R. Brown.

The Rotating Service Structure at pad 39B was swung open to accommodate Endeavour's arrival at the complex. The gantry at pad 39A is being backed away from Atlantis so the cargo for its mission to the Hubble telescope can be installed in the shuttle's payload bay on Saturday.

It is expected to be the last time shuttles are simultaneously visible on both pads. The remainder of NASA's nine shuttle missions are to be launched from pad 39A so pad 39B can be converted to launch Ares I rockets. The shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired at the end of 2010.

Coincidentally, NASA expects about 50,000 people to stream onto space center grounds for KSC Family Day on Saturday. NASA and contractor employees with permanent KSC credentials are invited to bring up to six people in personal vehicles during the day Saturday. Vehicles as large as a seven-person van will be allowed through KSC gates as long as an occupant is properly badged.

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