This is a sight that will probably never be seen again: two space shuttles nose-to-nose in the same location. NASA’s space shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis switched locations today at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and met each other for the last time in front of Orbiter Processing Facility 3.
Endeavour was moved from OPF 2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building where it will be housed temporarily until its targeted departure from Kennedy atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in mid-September. After a stop at the Los Angeles International Airport, Endeavour will move in mid-October to the California Science Center for permanent public display.
Atlantis will undergo preparations for its move to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in November, with a grand opening planned for July 2013.
Here’s a look at some other instances when two space shuttles were in close enough proximity to have their pictures taken together:
This event took place today at the National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in April, 2012 as space shuttle Discovery, the first orbiter retired from NASA’s shuttle fleet, met up with its prototype sister, Enterprise as they switch spots. Discovery is now at the Air & Space Museum, while Enterprise headed to New York City’s Intrepid Museum.
The first time two space shuttles were ever on the launchpads at the same time was in 1985. Then it was Columbia for STS-61-C and Challenger for the ill-fated STS-51-L. In the 30-year duration of the space shuttle program, having two shuttles on the launchpads at once happened just 17 times.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.