Monday, January 31, 2011

Discovery's final move to launch pad under way at KSC

Shuttle Discovery is on its way to launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center for what is expected to be the last time.

A giant crawler-transporter began rolling out of the 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building's High Bay 1 at 7:58 p.m. to start the 3.4-mile, seven-hour trek known as "rollout."

Discovery is preparing for its final mission, an 11-day flight to the International Space Station now targeted for Feb. 24.

The shuttle rolled to the pad in September, but was forced to return to the assembly building for external tank repairs that prompted a lengthy mission delay.

Cars were still filing into a viewing area near the center's turn basin as the shuttle's first motion began on time around 8 p.m.

KSC issued 900 passes as part of a program to thank employees for their service before NASA retires the shuttle and thousands of contractors face layoffs.

White xenon spotlights are illuminating the shuttle as it exits the VAB. Click the NASA TV box at right to watch live coverage.

Four veteran astronauts are making special guest appearances for the event: Ricky Arnold, Charlie Hobaugh, Steve Robinson and Terry Virts.

Discovery is expected to be secure on pad 39A by about 3 a.m.



Bruce said...

I like it when they say that this is expected to be the last time. Just a little hope they'll fly a few more years.

Mark Lopa said...

I like your thinking Bruce...but is it even remotely possible?