PHOTOS: Endeavour's nose and payload bay


Posted: March 10, 2012

Enclosed within a maze of work platforms, the shuttle Endeavour has spent most of its life inside one of three Orbiter Processing Facility bays at Kennedy Space Center.

When the orbiter fleet is gone from KSC, the shuttle hangars will be decommissioned and potentially handed over to commercial space firms or other NASA programs. One of the three OPFs will be used by Boeing to assemble their CST-100 commercial crew capsule, if the vehicle is selected in a competition by NASA.

Narrow corridors, steep ladders and extensive support equipment surround the shuttle inside the hangar. They give workers access to virtually every nook of the ship.

When Spaceflight Now collected these photos in early March, Endeavour was without its three main engines, yielding views inside the shuttle's aft compartment, where massive propellant lines, avionics, heavy-duty actuators, and other components reside.

Endeavour's two rear maneuvering rocket pods were also gone.

Engine nozzles and OMS pods will be added to the shuttle before it departs in September for the California Science Center in Los Angeles, where Endeavour will be put on public display.

See our Endeavour mission archive for previous STS-134 coverage.

Photo credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

One of Endeavour's forward reaction control system thrusters, used for small trajectory adjustments and attitude control while in space. Part of Endeavour's green metallic skin is visible to the left of the thruster. Larger image available for download.


Endeavour's nose landing gear wheel well. Larger image available for download.


Underneath an orbiter's black and white thermal protection system, the aluminum skin is colored green.


Endeavour shows some of the wear from 25 space flights over a 19-year flying career.


Another forward reaction control system thruster jet.


Endeavour's 60-foot payload bay is large enough to fit a school bus. Larger image available for download.


Endeavour's airlock and docking system are in the forward end of the payload bay.


Endeavour's Ku-band communications antenna is in the starboard forward corner of the payload bay.


Larger image available for download.


Another view of Endeavour's Ku-band antenna. Larger image available for download.



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