The Space Shuttle mounted to the External Tank inside the
The view is up along the massive
building. At the top,
you can see the crane hook that picks the
Photo by Michael
This is Atlantis being rolled out of the VAB and onto Pad
Photo by Michael
View of the Orbiter access ramp and the white room at the
Photo by Michael
Meanwhile, our hardware has been loaded into the Canister,
via security escort to the pad. This container is the same
and mechanical arrangement as the Shuttle Cargo Bay. Photo by
With Dave Gomme under the Shuttle Atlantis with the Aruban
The structure on the left is the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) that
covers and protects the Shuttle. It also allows access to the
Shuttle cargo bay.
In this image, we see the Canister being hoisted into the
Payload Changeout Room (PCR). Our hardware and carriers are
transferred into the PCR, and then into the Shuttle. Photo by
A close-up view of Atlantis shot by Kristie
'strongbacks' on the Cargo Bay. They are used to keep the
rigid during opening on the ground.
unusual aspect of our
mission is that a standby "rescue" shuttle will be needed to be ready
when Atlantis is launched. Only 18
history have there been two Shuttles on the pad, and only three of
those times have both been clearly visible and not hidden by the
protective Rotating Service Structure. The morning of Sept
2008 included one of these very rare occasion, and we visited Pad 39-A
to see this sight.
The above photo shows the day when both Orbiters were on
visible without the RSS covering them. The photo below is the
blow-up of the bottom section, where you can see Endeavour.
the rainbow in the background.
Full resolution of a portion of the above photograph.
Photo by Kelvin Garcia.
Links to articles in the press regarding this rare
In the hatch of
Atlantis on Pad 39-A.
To enter the
crew cabin, one must wear a
clean-room suit. Note the name of the Orbiter on the hatch
and the logo
of the mission on the hatch bridge.
I was in the crew cabin to help run the Interface
the End-to-End test.
This is where we power up the carriers and the Orbiter, and flow data
all the way
through the space network to Johnson Space Center in Houston, and
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt. My role is to help
Bit Sync Assembly, which is in the background (small box).
Sitting in the Commander's chair on the Flight Deck of the
while she is on Pad 39-A. Since the Shuttle is vertical, my
are pointed in the air, and I am lying down on the chair. The
previous time I had the priviledge of doing this was in Discovery.
A Big Delay and a New Assignment
September 28, 2008,
about to board a plane to return to KSC. In the parking
my phone goes off, and I hear of the news about a major problem on
HST. My plans are diverted, and I am requested to assist at
STOCC (Space Telescope Operations Control Center) at GSFC. It
that the main science data handling computer had gone down.
means that we only had the backup left. After just one day of
thought, NASA management decided
that it was insufficient to guarantee the years of useful science we
from Hubble after SM-4, and the mission is delayed until at least
So far, our launch had slipped from August 2008, to October 10, to
October 14, and now to Spring of 2009. During this slip, I
the effort to prepare a
replacement unit for installation during this mission.
News links of this problem:
project assembles a
of people to
prepare the new Science Data Computer for installation by the astronaut
crew. I join this team as the Electrical Lead for the new computer.
Inside the cleanroom at GSFC, working on the new Science Data
Computer. I am the one closest to the camera. In
foreground, you can see the flight unit's board on an extender card.
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