Kennedy Space Center technicians this morning removed a space shuttle main engine from an orbiter for the last time.
The last engine out: Unit No. 2047, one of the three that help propel Atlantis into orbit July 8 on the 135th shuttle launch. The engine flew on 15 missions.
In the hangar called Orbiter Processing Facility-2, the engine was pulled from the No. 1 engine position, which is at the top of the triangle the engines form.
The final mission's first engine was removed last Thursday, from the lower-left position, and a second Friday, from the lower-right slot.
The reusable Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne engines were trucked across the street to a shop where they'll go through standard post-flight processing and be stored for potential future use. NASA could use the engines for testing or in the first generation of a planned heavy-lift rocket.
Different sets of display engines will be installed in each orbiter before its transfer to a museum. The so-called "engines on a stick" will primarily consist of a refurbished nozzle without all the turbo pumps and electronics that are normally hidden from view inside the aft section.
NASA has 14 shuttle main engines certified for flight and a 15th awaiting certification.
IMAGE: In Orbiter Processing Facility-2 at Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 19, technicians use a Hyster forklift to position an engine removal device on Engine #3 on space shuttle Atlantis. Inside the aft section, a technician disconnects hydraulic, fluid and electrical lines. Credit: Frankie Martin