Monday, August 08, 2011

Orbiters prepare for nose-to-nose meeting

Two shuttle orbiters are getting ready for a face-to-face meeting this week at Kennedy Space Center.

Normally sequestered in private hangars, Discovery and Endeavour on Wednesday morning will be moved from one facility to another and pass each other on the way.

They'll pause for a nose-to-nose photo opportunity outside Discovery's former hangar, called Orbiter Processing Facility-3.

The shuttle program has released OPF-3 for potential use by a commercial space company.

So with only two hangars available for three orbiters, they're each taking turns occupying OPF-1, OPF-2 and an empty high bay in the Vehicle Assembly Building.

After a month's stay in the VAB, Discovery is returning to OPF-1 for more work that will get it ready for display at the Smithsonian Institution, where it is expected to be ferried in April.

Endeavour, after undergoing standard post-flight safing and inspections in OPF-1, will take Discovery's place in the assembly building until October, when it will swap with Atlantis, now in OPF-2.

Endeavour will later be ferried to the California Science Center; Atlantis will be displayed by the KSC Visitor Complex.

IMAGE: At Kennedy Space Center on July 13, space shuttle Discovery -- its nose encased in protective plastic, its cockpit windows covered, and strongbacks attached to its payload bay doors -- rolls out of Orbiter Processing Facility-2, or OPF-2, on its move to the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB. Credit: NASA/Ken Thornsley

1 comment:

stevehansell said...

Here's an additional bit of info.

Watch the PA-1 Test thru the youtube vid. The link gives you 3 pgs, just select the first Orion test which is the 5 minute vid. Take note of the separation activity of the tower/Orion combo first, then the tower seps to clear itself from the chutes so they can safely deploy:

One scary thing though, notice that the Orion seems to fly pretty close to the sep tower as they both come down!