Under Cloudy Skies Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis Move Out

Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios

Starting under cloudy skies and with the threat of rain later NASA  went ahead with the scheduled move of Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis.  A nose to nose photo opportunity did not take place due to the weather, more like two ships passing in the night. Discovery was backed out of OPF-1 for the final time this morning and placed in a holding area. Atlantis was backed out of the VAB  and  towed down the concrete apron and pulled in front of Discovery to take her place in OPF-1. Discovery then was towed into the west bay of the VAB with her  ferry tail-cone attached. Discovery will site in the VAB for the general public to see after purchasing a special ticket though the Visitor Center. As soon as Discovery was secured the first tour bus arrived. The next stop for her will be the transfer over to the Shuttle Runway, at that point she will be hoisted onto the back of NASA’s 747 and flown to Washington DC for display.

“This will  the last time Discovery  would be in the OPF, she is headed over for a short stay in the VAB after that she will be  mated with the 747 for the final trip to Washington,” said NASA’s Flow Director for Orbiter Transition and Retirement, Stephanie Stilson.  “As Discovery is being displayed at a government facility NASA will still hold title to her.”

Stephanie Stilson talked with AmericaSpace's Julian Leek about where the space shuttles were currently at in terms of their transitioning to retirement. Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios

Stilson will be with NASA though the final delivery of the last shuttle. NASA’s obligation ends once the shuttle is unloaded from the 747 from there her team becomes observers unless they are requested to assist. She is waiting to see what jobs open up for her after the final shuttle is delivered.

Once her decommissioning is complete, Atlantis will essentially move “next door” to a massive $100 million facility that is being constructed to house her at the adjacent Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Space shuttle Discovery is set to fly out to her new home, the Smithsonian's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia next month. Atlantis will be moved "down the road" to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex shortly thereafter. Photo Credit: Graham Martin


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