Endeavour Rolls to Vehicle Assembly Building for Final Flight

[/caption]NASA’s Space Shuttle Program is inexorably and swiftly headed towards its finale.

With shuttle Discovery orbiting some 200 miles overhead on her final flight, launch preparations for the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour moved into high gear.

Endeavour was rolled a few hundred yards from her processing hanger at the Kennedy Space Center to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where she will be attached to the external fuel tank (ET) and twin solid rocket boosters (SRB) which will power her final trip to space. See photo album below from Alan Walters and Ken Kremer.

NASA plans to transport Endeavour to Launch Pad 39 A on March 9 for the STS-134 missionand her 25th and final flight. Launch is set for April 19.

Rollover of Endeavour. Credit: Alan Walters - awaltersphoto.com

Endeavour and her six person crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a $1.5 Billion particle physics detector designed to search for dark matter and determine the origin of the Universe. The crew will also deliver a platform that carries spare parts platform parts that will sustain station operations once the shuttles are retired later this year.

The quarter mile trip on a 76 wheeled transporter began about 7 AM this morning (Feb 28). The orbiter was backed tail first out of the processing hanger known as the Orbiter Processing Facility and then ‘rolled over’ to the VAB and parked close to the entrance doors.

Rollover marks the start of the final phase of launch preparations for the STS-134 mission. Hundreds of Shuttle workers who process the orbiters for flight were invited to witness the event and pose for photo ops with the spaceship. Most KSC employees never get the chance to glimpse the orbiters up close.

The next major milestone is for Endeavour to be hoisted and mated to the External Tank on Tuesday and prepare for rollout to the launch pad.

STS 134 astronauts pilot Gregory Johnson and Italian flight engineer Roberto Vittori watch Rollover of Endeavour on Feb 28. Credit: Ken Kremer
Rollover of Endeavour. Credit: Alan Walters - awaltersphoto.com
Rollover of Endeavour. Credit: Alan Walters - awaltersphoto.com
Rollover of Endeavour. Credit: Alan Walters - awaltersphoto.com
Rollover of Endeavour. Credit: Ken Kremer

Rollover of Endeavour. Credit: Ken Kremer

Rollover of Endeavour. Credit: Ken Kremer

Rollover of Endeavour. Credit: Ken Kremer

26 Replies to “Endeavour Rolls to Vehicle Assembly Building for Final Flight”

  1. i ask. Will this unique perspective of reminiscing about this on-going historic space soap opera saga ever end?

    1. The end of a 30-year program — the only program that some people have ever known — is a pretty historic event. Going on 12 years now, Universe Today has chronicled every space shuttle flight during that time, and we’ll continue to chronicle it to the end, and do it to the best of our abilities, especially when we have reporters and photographers on-site, in the thick of the action. ‘Cuz when it’s over, it’s over and we’ll never have this chance again.

      1. Absolutely no disagreement in what you say. The Space Shuttle for me continues to be an amazing piece of technology. I saw the first launches of the Shuttle, I’ve seen the results, I’ve amazed at the technology. (I can still recall using an old 386 PC and an old HP-41 Programmable Calculator (the latter taken on the first missions to do necessary quick calculations in flying the craft in orbit), and hearing at the same time how the Shuttle had five computers literally talking to each other just so the spacecraft could fly. The similar technology used in the first shuttles is now at my fingertips, and is enabled much of the technology for everyday life. )
        My own point is more over quality rather than quantity in all these stories. Since the cancellation and reorganised US space program was announced by your President Obama, the reader now just ‘glazes over’ when they read these stories.

        Note: While the following probably irrelevant to your story, it makes a minor point.
        IMO it is like all the human disaster stories we see in all forms of the media. We get focus on the story 24/7 until the story’s life has been squeezed out of it, mostly when saturation is reached, then the media moves on with the story and those who suffer such utter tragedy and left with the mess and little or no sympathy. I.e. I saw a repeat story today on the German “The Journal” from Deutsche Welle (DW) Berlin TV (in English), and the highlighted story on the Peruvian tsunami and 8.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated much of the country on 27th February 2010. People were surviving as best they could, but as the rest of the world and even in Peru government we doing and saying little of their plight. Yet it killed 524 people, 25 disappeared, and affected 800.000 people. Only 220,000 homes were destroyed, and most of the people still live in tents without any hope of future government assistance.
        Media forgets about it, in just six days, mind you; and the few, who could make a difference, really care or have the attention span to cope with it. Kinda puts it in perspective. That’s how I see it…

      2. Ok! So wnat are you going to do about it? Don’t just complain!

        For the human race to evolve from adolescence towards maturity. We must be taught from day one, to make responsible choices as members of our society and to respect other peoples freedom to make responsible choices.
        That is what real democracy is.

        Otherwise we will never be allowed to join The Federation of Planets

  2. @ Hon. Salacious B. Crumb

    I ask. Will the on-going soap opera saga of cynical and snide comments to this web-site ever end?

    1. Probably it won’t — though you can take heart that I’m not immortal!.

  3. When the shuttle was first unveiled, I thought they looked kind of 50ish and boxy. As though we’d reached into the past and resurrected the C-47 and used it to go orbital? Then… the fleet began to prove itself. I still wonder what went on in those early closed military flights? Did they rendezvous and inspect Soviet satellites? or even bring one back? I wonder if we’ll ever know what went on? We do know that the military dang near lost one of the shuttles during one of the Atlantis missions in 1988….

  4. Toward alcyone’s comment, and Nancy’s kind response.

    Actually I am being neither cynical or snide. I fear the media is driving this story to the into ground, to the extent that people are just switching off — and we are only at the penultimate mission! (or if they do decide on another mission, second to last.)
    Perhaps the end of the shuttle should instead not being focussed in the past but for the future. I.e. Like the immortal Latin words In Futurum Videre — To the Future We Look.
    IMO the media should be focussing careful on the important aspects of what the shuttle has achieved, what it has given us, and what have we learnt for the future. There seems this illogical idea we must concentrate on every little last moment down to the infinitesimal last detail. Do you really want to suck the life out of the story until it tied withering corpse is ultimately desiccated?
    Look. The Space Shuttle has been the pinnacle of technological excellence in both the USA and the rest of the world. Everyone has simply marvelled at its phenomenal accomplishments. It has launched satellites, interplanetary spacecraft, and observatories that has contributed to our knowledge of the solar system and beyond. It has brought home the dangers of space exploration with the loss of two shuttles with both crews on broad meeting a tragic end. The people what designed and worked 30 years ago have long since retired or sadly passed away. It time has come… so let’s adjust to moving on and put the Space Shuttle in it rightful place and not kill all real interest in the story (nor the public’s interest ) by boring us to death.

    Give me fewer stories without all the embellished fluff and get to the real heart of what the whole Shuttle Program really means!!

    (I ask you. Looking at all the stories about these shuttle missions, why is there virtually no responses or comments to the seemingly plethora of recent stories on the Shuttle? Frankly, even I have started to tire and lose interest in the incessant pounding of this conclusion to the Shuttle Program — and the variants of the rights and wrongs or holding on to the hope that the end isn’t happening.)

    That is honestly how I see it. Disagree you may….

    1. I do beg to differ, because I see the stats. Many of our “picture gallery” articles get some of the most pageviews, but have very few comments (the amount of comments are definitely not a measure of how much an article is read). If you are “bored to death” by these great images, then the stats say you are in the minority.

      1. Fair enough. i hadn’t considered the stats for the page visited, but as they are no longer given at the bottom of the page. I have no direct means of assessing this.
        As for “boring to death”, I meant absolutely no disrespect here with the UT stories on this subject so far nor of these interesting images. I meant there is a possible reaction of saturating stories to the point that people just start “switching off.”

    2. “Actually I am being neither cynical or snide.”
      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…………….

    3. “Give me fewer stories without all the embellished fluff……”
      Have you considered starting your own blog site?

      1. Ta Da! ….Announcement of rare event- I have to say that I am (hrumph.) in complete agreement with the Hon. Salacious B. Crumb on this. I love everything shuttle, but I find myself just scanning over the articles anymore. Nice pictures though.

      2. Thanks, but I am not trying to win friends and influence people.
        I too am searching for something new and substantive in the last days of the shuttle.

        Note: Perhaps UT and Nancy (or even Ken) might like to consider an open article discussing what the Shuttle program has meant to individuals, what they might consider the most important achievements, or what they remember of the early years of the shuttle. (Perhaps these will come with the final mission — if anyone has not been over saturated by the media by then!)

      3. You also missed “…and get to the real heart of what the whole Shuttle Program really means!!”

        At least Manu does partly gets my point; I.e. “I understand the desire for commemorative stuff at a time like this, but what bugs me more than the amount of it is the missed opportunity for a critical look at the US manned space programs for the last 30+ years (not just 3).”

        Whist you might find it amusing, the current saturation across the US and international media with the over-the-top coverage second last mission. The fluff is the mostly unnecessary excessive “commemorative stuff.”

        In the end it is my opinion… right or wrong.

  5. I recently heard one interviewed astronaut on Nasa TV (maybe P. Nespoli? not sure) claim that the Shuttles were retired not because they were too old, but because they were too new. Meaning that the technology that was supposed to make them the cheap easy reliable space transport system as intended doesn’t yet exist to this day.

    I understand the desire for commemorative stuff at a time like this, but what bugs me more than the amount of it is the missed opportunity for a critical look at the US manned space programs for the last 30+ years (not just 3).

    The Shuttle program should have been canceled or at least postponed as soon as it became obvious it could not meet objectives – by far. The people who had made the Saturn rockets were still around by then and could have built the next generation Saturns, or whatever did meet realistic objectives and would probably still meet them today.
    But misplaced pride (what else?) forbade turning back: instead more crazily unrealistic stuff like Venture Star was considered, but not plain old unsexy rockets until way too late.

    I’d expect UT to bring up that kind of stuff once in a while.

    1. A great deal of useful data was generated by the Venture Star project… like how not to build an ultralight composite cryogenic tank? I’ll add that the concept may yet be revisited as materials catch up with the design…

    2. “… as soon as it became obvious it could not meet objectives …”
      The STS program is a government-run program. Those programs are rarely run in a rational manner.

  6. Ummm, last I checked, Nasa was a government agency. If you look back at the accomplishments achieved by this “government run” program, I defy you to demonstrate the irrationality. Working with the Federal budget dollars given to Nasa, I’d say they’ve done a pretty damn decent job.

  7. Crumb, to your first and second comment in this thread : you’re missing the point. Its not (onloy) about the technology behind this, but the historical — and heck, even artistical, to an extent — aspect of this whole program coming to an end. Its a chapter in the history of humankind that will endure and be told for a very long time, like it or not.

    And maybe you and several other readers do only “just ‘glazes over’ when they read these stories.” but a lot of others don’t.

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