PHOTOS: Endeavour's heat shield, landing gear


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

Endeavour's port wing and payload bay door. The clamshell-like doors to the shuttle cargo bay are designed to operate in microgravity, and they require support brackets to open on the ground in gravity. Larger image available for download.


Close-up of the base of Endeavour's rudder on the shuttle tail.


Endeavour's vertical stabilizer.


Larger image available for download.


Endeavour's port wing.


Larger image available for download.


Endeavour's main landing gear with scuffed Michelin tires.


Endeavour's nose landing gear.


The orbiter is jacked above the ground in the Orbiter Processing Facility.


Endeavour's silica tiles. Larger image available for download.


Tile damage from Endeavour's final mission.


Umbilical doors open to reveal the attach points and fluid and electrical connectors between Endeavour and its throwaway external fuel tank.



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