Fri, May 12, 2006
Orbiter Moved To Vehicle Assembly Building
NASA's return to space took a significant step towards the
heavens Friday, as the space shuttle Discovery was moved from its
hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to await attachment
to its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters.
Workers at Kennedy Space Center -- some holding a banner
proclaiming "One Team, One Mission" -- watched as Discovery
completed the hour-long trip over less than a fifth of a mile to
the VAB. Many of them accompanied the orbiter along its path.
The move is a major milestone for NASA's shuttle program -- not
only because it moves the shuttle into the VAB, but also
that it means Discovery is now out of its hangar, where a series of accidents plagued
Discovery is scheduled to be mated to the tank and SRBs in the
coming week, before the completed assembly begins its long, slow
trek to the launchpad, in anticipation of launch no sooner than
NASA reports the next shuttle flight -- the first since last
July's flight of Discovery -- will continue the evaluation of
flight safety procedures, including shuttle inspection and repair
techniques. It also will deliver more supplies and cargo for future
Steve Lindsey will command the mission, flying with pilot Mark
Kelly, spacewalkers Mike Fossum and Piers Sellers and mission
specialists Stephanie Wilson and Lisa Nowak. European Space Agency
astronaut Thomas Reiter is also part of the crew and will remain on
the station for several months.
Reiter's arrival will give the station its first three-person
crew since May 4, 2003.
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