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Monday, February 28, 2011

Space shuttle Endeavour begins her rollover to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on February 28, 2011.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

ENDEAVOUR PREPS FOR HER FINALE... At 8:13 AM, Pacific Time today, the orbiter Endeavour rolled into the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final time. Over the next week or so, the youngest vehicle in NASA’s space shuttle fleet will be mated to her external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters and undergo tests before being rolled out to the launch pad next month. Scheduled for liftoff on April 19, Endeavour will fly on mission STS-134...which will deliver a large physics experiment known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station (ISS). Unless NASA does find funding for STS-135 (which would involve Atlantis flying to the ISS this June), Endeavour’s voyage will mark the final flight in the 30-year-old shuttle program. That is all.

Kennedy Space Center workers take a group photo with space shuttle Endeavour during her rollover to the VAB, on February 28, 2011.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

Space shuttle Endeavour approaches the VAB at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 28, 2011.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Space shuttle Discovery launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on her final voyage to the International Space Station, on February 24, 2011.
NASA

DISCOVERY’S SWAN SONG... At 1:53 PM, Pacific Standard Time today, space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on her final voyage to the International Space Station (ISS). Discovery will dock with the ISS this Saturday, February 26, and undock on March 5 before returning to KSC on March 7. Eventually, the orbiter will be moved to her final home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.

Below are several photos of Discovery when she was constructed at Rockwell International (now Boeing) in Palmdale, California during the early 1980s. The images are courtesy of Space.com.

Assembly is done on Discovery’s forward bulkhead and payload bay.
Boeing

Assembly is done on Discovery's aft bulkhead and port wing.
Boeing

Assembly is done on the lower part of Discovery’s fuselage and her crew cabin.
Boeing

Assembly continues on Discovery’s forward bulkhead, while thermal protection tiles are added to the bottom of one of the orbiter’s wings.
Boeing

Assembly is completed on Discovery at her Rockwell manufacturing facility in Palmdale, California.
Boeing

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Xenon spotlights focus on space shuttle Discovery as it heads back to Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on January 31, 2011.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

BACK AT THE PAD... Not to state the obvious, but here’s hoping that the next time space shuttle Discovery leaves her pad at Launch Complex 39A, it will be to head for the International Space Station 220 miles above on February 24...and not to undergo more repairs inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. By the way, may the 7 astronauts of space shuttle Columbia rest in peace. Today marks 8 years since STS-107 ended in tragedy. The space shuttle program is 3 flights away from ending in hopeful triumph. That is all.

900 NASA employees and their families and friends watch as space shuttle Discovery heads back to LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on January 31, 2011.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

Space shuttle Discovery returns to LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on February 1, 2011.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

Dawn is about to rise above space shuttle Discovery and LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on February 1, 2011.
NASA / Kim Shiflett