How Does the Shuttle Orbiter Get Attached to the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters?

Ever wondered how the space shuttle orbiter gets attached to the big external tank and the solid rocket boosters? This video shows the process — called “Lift and Mate” — where the shuttle Endeavour was put into a special harness, lifted high above the stacked ET and SRBs inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center, and lowered into place. The orbiter is then bolted to the ET and SRBs. Endeavour’s Lift and Mate for its final flight took place on March 1, 2011. You can also see extremely high resolution, pan and zoom images of Endeavour lifted high in the VAB at the NASATech website. (High bandwidth warning! — but definitely worth it.) See the NASATech main page for the full variety of images.

Endeavour is scheduled to rollout to Launch Pad 39A next week for STS-134, with launch set for April 19. Even though this could be the final flight of the shuttle program (STS-135 is still not a certainty) many people are looking forward to this flight, as it will bring the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the ISS. AMS is a particle physics detector designed to search for various types of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays.

One Reply to “How Does the Shuttle Orbiter Get Attached to the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters?”

  1. This video has me wondering…. Has there ever been a seismic event during transfer ops.? or stacking? How about during the Apollo program? Worse case scenario would of course be after tanking… ACK! Makes me glad they never launched the shuttle from Vandenburg AFB! Which incidentally is located on the San Andreas fault line!

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