Space Shuttle Discovery, continued


Discovery on the launch pad

After the orbiter is assembled with the External Tank and the Solid Rocket Boosters, it is rolled out to the launch pad on the Crawler/Transporter. This massive vehicle was used during the Apollo program and then retrofitted for Shuttle.

crawler
The massive 'crawler' that transports the shuttle to the launch pad.
This vehicle moves at about 1 mile per hour and is about three stories tall.
Full Size

103 on 39B
View from the launchpad onto the Shuttle. The tunnel going from
center to the right of the image is the walkway that the Astronauts use
to board the spacecraft. Full Size

Standing on the levels of the launch pad is a very scary experience for someone who has a bad case of vertigo (fear of heights). The levels are made of steel grating, and as a result you can see thru them.

vertigo
View from the walkway on the launch pad.

At times you are several hundred feet above the ground, and when you look down, you can see all the way to the ground. Since your eyes focus to the ground several hundred feet away, the metal grating that you are standing on seems to disapear and it is almost as if you are floating and falling thru the air. When I walk along the pad I have to keep my eyes straight ahead or I get really uncomfortable.

103 on 39B
Standing in the access hatch to the Shuttle in the 'White Room'.
This is the room at the end of the walkway to the Shuttle.
The big white balloon on the left is the cover of the hatch. Full Size


pad meatball
This NASA logo is known as the 'meatball', and was
recently painted onto Discovery just for this mission.
The one on the left is the large logo on the wing,
the smaller one on the right is on the port side of the spacecraft. Full Size

Some more shots of inside the crew cabin and the launch pad:

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