Double Shuttle Show Highlights Painful Transition

Discovery, under an overcast sky is moved from the VAB to meet her sister, Endeavour. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — It was a hard but necessary thing to watch; two space shuttles, once proud, now stripped bare of the elements that allowed them to take flight on display for the world to see. NASA allowed media to attend the event that, while admittedly necessary to get the orbiters where they will eventually end up, was still hard to see. The orbiters Discovery and Endeavour were slated to move on Wednesday, Aug 10, but bad weather forced the move to the following day at approximately 8:30 a.m. EDT.

The orbiters each had a huge section (the Reaction Control System) removed from the front nose section of the craft. Discovery however was more noticeable as the plastic covering that was placed over this section had broken free. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Without their Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs), Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pods, or the nose-mounted Reaction Control System (RCS) the orbiters looked forlorn and laid bare. The two orbiters were set to switch locations between Orbiter Processing Facility – 01 and the Vehicle Assembly Building where shuttle Discovery has been held.

Discovery and Endeavour are brought together on the small road between the massive Vehicle Assembly Building and the Orbiter Processing Facilities. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

The two were brought out on display, with some of the remaining shuttle workers on hand with flags and a quilt to mark the occasion. The skies above were grey and overcast adding a pall to the affair. Still, most in attendance acknowledged that getting the orbiters prepared for retirement was necessary to move on to the next phase.

Discovery, bereft of the elements that gave her flight, is rolled into view. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

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