Shuttle Endeavour Photo Special: On Top of Pad 39A for Final Flight

by Ken Kremer on March 20, 2011

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Panoramic view from the upper reaches of the Shuttle Gantry -
Fixed Service Structure - at Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
View shows the top of the shuttle stack and Florida Space Coastline. Credit: Ken Kremer
Photo Album below

Space Shuttle Endeavour now sits majestically at launch pad 39 A at the Kennedy Space Center, awaiting her historic final spaceflight on the STS-134 mission. Following her nighttime rollout to the pad, I was part of a lucky band of photographers and journalists permitted to travel along and participate in the ultimate photo op on a picture perfect day.

NASA allowed us to get breathtakingly close and document Endeavour from multiple absolutely awesome vantage points all around the launch pad from top to bottom. We were given access to shoot from the upper reaches of the launch gantry with stunning panoramic vistas of the Florida coastline to the bottom of the launch platform and standing directly beneath the External Tank and adjacent to the Twin Solid Rocket Boosters.

Here is part 1 of my photo album which focuses on the upper levels and includes our visit to the White Room – where the astronauts enter the crew hatch to board the shuttle orbiter to take their seats for the adventure of a lifetime.

Walkway to the White Room and astronaut’s crew hatch at Pad 39 A. Credit: Ken Kremer www.kenkremer.com

With the shuttle era rapidly drawing to a close, NASA has opened up media access in ways not previously allowed so that we can share these rarely seen views of the shuttle with the public.

Close up of Endeavour crew cabin, ET, SRB and astronaut walkway to the White Room. Credit: Ken Kremer

STS-134 will be the 25th and final flight for Space Shuttle Endeavour. Liftoff is set slated for April 19 with an all veteran crew of six, led by Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly.

Endeavour will haul the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to orbit and attach this premiere science experiment to the truss structure of the International Space Station. AMS will search for dark matter and antimatter and seak to determine the origin of the universe.

Read more about the STS-134 mission in my prior reports here and here

View from top levels of Launch Pad 39A to Endeavour and Florida coast. Credit: Ken Kremer

Space Shuttle Endeavour awaits April 19 launch from Pad 39A at KSC. Credit: Ken Kremer

Side view of Space Shuttle Endeavour from on top of Pad 39A at KSC looking out to Florida coastline. at KSC. Credit Ken Kremer

Looking down along the Solid Rocket Boosters to the base of the Mobile Launch Platform at Pad 39A. Credit: Ken Kremer

View from the top of the retracted Rotating Service Structure (RSS) at Pad 39A to Endeavour and gaseous oxygen vent hood – beanie cap - with humerous wind monitor and Pad 39B off in the distance at left. Credit: Ken Kremer

Close up of Endeavour crew cabin attached to the White Room, Credit: Ken Kremer

Inside the White Room at Pad 39 A and the crew hatch to Shuttle Endeavour. Credit: Ken Kremer

Ken on top of the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) at Pad 39A with Endeavour and
gaseous oxygen vent hood – beanie cap. Credit: Ken Kremer

Space Shuttle Endeavour and launch gantry at Launch Pad 39A at KSC.
For context, the photos above were taken from the upper levels of the pad service structures at left (Rotating Service Structure and Fixed Service Structure) and the White Room attached to crew cabin at center. The Flame Trench is at bottom, center. Credit: Ken Kremer

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com

HeadAroundU March 20, 2011 at 10:16 PM

end ever

Feenixx March 20, 2011 at 11:34 PM

“Space Shuttle Endeavour awaits April 19 launch from Pad 39A at KSC” – that’s my clear favourite!!!

mgjohnson March 21, 2011 at 2:41 AM

Fabulous photos, Ken. Must have been a thrill to be up there.
“”……..with humerous wind monitor””” — Ken, are you sure that balloon wind monitor you saw isn’t acually a scarecrow for owls and other large birds? I’ve seen those balloons with goofy pictures painted on them before and their main purpose is to scare away owls and other large hesting birds from an area.

Spacemad March 22, 2011 at 1:44 AM

Thanks to Ken, & NASA, for these stunning close up shots of shuttle Endeavour! How I wish I could be there to take my own shots & see an active shuttle before it is retired.

Let’s hope this mission isn’t held up for 3 months like Discovery was! I imagine that the engineers at NASA will have revised all the problems they had with Discovery before Endeavour was even rolled out to the launching pad. “Once bitten … “

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