Spaceflight Now: STS-101 Mission Report
Photo Gallery: In the VAB
Posted: April 23, 2000

On March 17, space shuttle Atlantis was moved into Kennedy Space Center's 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building from its processing hangar. Workers in the VAB attached Atlantis to its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters atop a mobile launching platform. In addition, one of the main engines was replaced due to concerns about internal seals. Images: NASA/KSC.

Attaching the crane
Inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, Atlantis rests atop a transporter in the transfer aisle while an overhead crane is placed around the space vehicle.
Going vertical
The overhead crane begins to lift Atlantis into a vertical position so it can be mated with its external tank and solid rocket boosters before being transported to launch pad 39A.
Shuttle belly
The belly of Atlantis is seen after the shuttle is raised vertically. The landing gear doors are clearly noted and the two external tank umbilical doors are opened for the upcoming mating.
Hoisting high
Suspended by a crane over the transfer aisle of the VAB, Atlantis is lifted higher in order to move it toward the stack of external tank and solid rocket boosters at left. The 122-foot high orbiter is easily accommodated inside the 525-foot-tall, 518-foot-wide VAB.
The High Bay
The crane maneuvers Atlantis into High Bay 3. The awaiting external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters are seen atop the mobile launcher platform.
High bay
Sliding down
Technicians slowly lower Atlantis in front of the external fuel tank. The shuttle mating process takes several hours from start to finish.
Almost there
Atlantis is nearly in place next to the attach points on the external tank. Workers would then physically bolt the shuttle the to tank and connect fuel and electrical lines.
Almost there
Engine out
Equipment is positioned to remove main engine No. 1 from Atlantis in the VAB. An inventory review revealed the engine probably had defective engine fuel pump tip seals accidently installed.
Engine out
New engine installed
Underneath the 26-foot vertical tail structure of Atlantis, workers prepare to install the replacement main engine No. 1. The main engine nozzles, visible in the photo, are 7.8 feet across and 9.4 feet high.
New engine

Photo gallery

Rollout - The fully assembled shuttle Atlantis is rolled to launch pad 39A.

Fixing Atlantis - Workers replace the faulty hydraulic unit aboard Atlantis last week.

Pre-launch briefing
STS-101 index - See a listing off all our STS-101 stories and coverage.

Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

Launch windows - The predicted windows in which Atlantis could launch over the the next week.

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