NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with space shuttle Endeavour mounted atop will taxi into the Mate-Demate Device at Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday morning. The MDD will afford protection to the aircraft from thunderstorms and lightning that are predicted at Kennedy Tuesday afternoon.
The SCA is scheduled to begin a cross-country ferry flight at sunrise on Wednesday, transporting Endeavour to Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, a day later than originally planned.
Managers will hold a weather briefing at 11 a.m. to assess the forecast for Wednesday's flight.
Image above: NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, with space shuttle Endeavour secured on its back, returns to the Mate-Demate Device, or MDD, for protection from adverse weather. Photo credit: NASA
NASA's space shuttle fleet began setting records with its first launch on April 12, 1981 and continued to set high marks of achievement and endurance through 30 years of missions. Starting with Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, the spacecraft has carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered and repaired satellites, conducted cutting-edge research and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station. The final space shuttle mission, STS-135, ended July 21, 2011 when Atlantis rolled to a stop at its home port, NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
As humanity's first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA's field centers and across the nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater goal of space exploration.