Friday, December 11, 2009

Endeavour rolling to assembly building at KSC

The orbiter Endeavour is on its way to becoming a full-fledged space shuttle, traveling to the Vehicle Assembly Building for connection to an external tank and twin solid rocket boosters.

Riding atop a 76-wheeled transporter at Kennedy Space Center, Endeavour began backing out of its hangar, called Orbiter Processing Facility-2, on schedule around 1 p.m.

The 88-ton spaceship, empty of cargo, will take 30 to 40 minutes to roll about a quarter-mile before taking cover in the 52-story assembly building.

The move sets the stage for the first launch of 2010, when NASA plans to fly out the final five shuttle missions.

Endeavour's liftoff is still officially targeted for early Feb. 4, but that date is expected to change to Feb. 7.

NASA plans to launch its unmanned Solar Dynamics Observatory science mission atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 3, which would conflict with a Feb. 4 shuttle launch.

Endeavour and a crew of six astronauts will fly a 13-day mission to deliver the Tranquility module and a seven-windowed cupola to the International Space Station.

Shuttle managers succeeded in preparing Endeavour for its rollover to the VAB ahead of schedule. It had been planned for 7 a.m. Saturday.

But with a storm front approaching, and managers hoping to give spaceport workers a full weekend with their families near the holidays, plans shifted.

As usual, a crowd of center employees are walking alongside the orbiter to witness the move -- the second to last time Endeavour is scheduled to make it.

The shuttle is expected to roll out to launch pad 39A on Jan. 6.

PHOTO: By Florida Today's Todd Halvorson.


Anonymous said...

Milk it baby, Milk it!

Milk that Govt Social Welfare Program for all it's worth!

Anonymous said...

Five more Shuttle Launches...I wonder if they'll have a Grand Finale as the last launch, in which they'll fire off all of the remaining Space Shuttles together. It'll be just like the 4th of July fireworks display!

Anonymous said...

The shuttle is finally working well. We have the chance to use the Space Station for earth observation, astronomy, materials science, and even tourism. Throwing away the Shuttle now makes no sense.

Constellation, in contrast, is a hugely expensive program with, so far as I can tell, no practical benefits for America. To make human spaceflight practical, we must reduce its cost, and Constellation has no prospect of doing so.

We should continue Shuttle until approximately 2020 when commercial operators like SpaceX will be able to provide all the needed transportation to the Space Station.