Shuttle Atlantis moves to VAB, but only for storage


Posted: January 22, 2012

The shuffling of NASA's three retired space shuttle orbiters between the two remaining hangars at the Kennedy Space Center continued Friday morning as Atlantis was moved into a two-month storage at the Vehicle Assembly Building.

The towmachine brought Atlantis the quarter-mile down the road starting at 8:27 a.m. EST, then backed her into the center aisle of the 52-story building at 9:40 a.m. EST. Technicians hooked up purging equipment stationed in the VAB that a NASA spokeswoman says is needed to preserve orbiter hardware that could be recycled for use by future programs.

Endeavour has been parked in the VAB bay 4 since August, now she'll take the open Orbiter Processing Facility bay 2 hangar that Atlantis vacated around Feb. 1 to resume the decommissioning and museum preparation work before going to Los Angeles later this year.

But for the next several days, tourists can see both Atlantis and Endeavour inside the VAB by taking one of the Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex bus tours.

Discovery is in OPF bay 1 and nearing completion of the Smithsonian display prep. She will swap places with Atlantis in mid-March and wait out the final weeks at the spaceport parked in the VAB before being ferried to the Dulles International Airport outside Washington in mid-April.

Atlantis, which flew the final space shuttle mission, is scheduled for delivery to Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex next January.

See our Atlantis mission archive for previous STS-135 coverage.

Photo credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now


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