Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pegasus sails from KSC into uncertain future

The barge NASA used to deliver space shuttle external fuel tanks from New Orleans to Florida set sail from Kennedy Space Center this morning, possibly for the last time.

The Pegasus, towed by a crew of three seamen and one technician aboard the Freedom Star solid booster recovery ship, is bound for Bay St. Louis, Miss., where it will remain in storage until a new use is determined, NASA said in a press release.

The 266-foot-long, 50-foot-wide covered barge is expected to complete the It's 900-mile journey Nov. 16.

The Pegasus sailed 41 times and delivered 31 space shuttle external tanks between 1999 and 2011. This time it is carrying ground support equipment that was used to install space shuttle main engines in orbiters.

The Kennedy shop where the engines were stored and processed between flights is among the facilities turned over to Space Florida for future use by The Boeing Co., which on Oct. 31 announced plans to manufacture its CST-100 commercial crew capsule at KSC.

The engines will be utilized in testing and early flights of the giant rocket NASA is developing for deep space exploration, the Space Launch System.

The Marshall Space Flight Center's Shuttle-Ares Transition Office in Huntsville, Ala. is responsible for determining the fate of the Pegasus and ground support equipment.

About Photo: Pegasus leaving Kennedy Space Center for what could be the last time. Photo by Malcolm Denemark

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