Entries in Kennedy Space Center (12)


Space Shuttles Discovery, Endeavour Swap Places at Space Center

Space shuttle Discovery pictured on right. NASA/Frankie Martin(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- In a rare sight, two of NASA's now-retired space shuttles were seen being moved late Thursday from one building to another at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Space shuttle Discovery was removed from the Vehicle Assembly Building and transported into the Orbiter Processing Facility, where Endeavour formerly resided.  Endeavour, in turn, swapped places with Discovery, moving into the assembly building.

Both orbiters have already been stripped of their engines and thrusters so that they can be shipped off to museums where they will spend the rest of their days.

Discovery will be sent to the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport in Virginia, while Endeavour is scheduled to go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.  The other surviving space shuttle, Atlantis, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center visitors' center.

NASA's 30-year space shuttle program came to an end on July 21 when Atlantis returned from the International Space Station after a 13-day mission -- the final one for the program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Space Shuttle Atlantis Lands for the Last Time

NASA/Bill Ingalls(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- For the last time, space shuttle Atlantis returned back to Earth early Thursday morning after embarking on a 13-day mission to the International Space Station.

Atlantis and its four-man crew -- Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim -- landed safely at 5:57 a.m. EDT at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"Reaching for the ground ... shuttle Atlantis headed for the runway," ABC's Vic Ratner, who called the landing, said as the shuttle was approaching the space center.

"Main gear touch down," announced Mission Control.

"Main gear touch down tells you it's home safe, home after more than 5 million miles in space on this mission," Ratner continued.  "Rolling out on the runway in front of me to the cheers and applause of the crowds around me. ... The final landing of the space shuttle program after 30 years of history."

With Thursday's landing, NASA's space shuttle program has officially come to an end.

After 135 flights in 30 years, the space shuttles are now history.  NASA said before landing that with Atlantis' flight over, the five shuttle orbiters would together have traveled 537,114,016 miles in orbit.  Three hundred and thirty-five astronauts have flown on them; 14 died when the shuttles Columbia and Challenger were lost.

Atlantis alone made 33 flights, carried 191 space fliers, spent 307 days in orbit, circled Earth 4,848 times and put 125,935,769 miles on its odometer.

The three surviving shuttles will now become museum pieces.  Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center visitors' center.  Its seniormost sister ship, Discovery, goes to the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, and Endeavour will be sent to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Atlantis Fuels Up Despite Unfavorable Weather for Shuttle Launch

NASA/Troy Cryder UPDATE: Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Friday to begin the final mission for NASA's space shuttle program.

(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Space shuttle Atlantis began fueling up with over 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen early Friday morning in anticipation of its final launch -- the last mission for NASA's space shuttle program.

The space shuttle is scheduled for lift-off at 11:26 a.m. ET.  However, inclement weather could push the launch back to either Saturday or Sunday.  According to NASA, Friday's forecast shows a 30 percent chance of favorable weather.

Up to one million spectators are estimated to be on hand when Atlantis' four-man crew -- Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim -- takes off for a 12-day mission to the International Space Station from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.  The astronauts will carry critical parts and goods to keep the station supplied for the next year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Space Shuttle Launch: Tributes and Thunderstorms

NASA/Jim Grossman(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Space shuttle Atlantis stands ready for launch on Friday, and waves of nostalgia are already rolling over the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

But so are thunderstorms. The Air Force and NASA said Wednesday there is a 70 percent chance that clouds and showers will get in the way of a Friday launch. The launch is currently scheduled for Friday at 11:26 a.m. EDT, if the weather allows. The forecast gradually improves over the weekend; on Saturday there's a 60 percent chance the weather will interfere, and by Sunday the threat drops to 40 percent.

The shuttle has only one chance to launch each day -- a 10-minute window during which its orbiting target, the International Space Station, is passing overhead. A Saturday launch would happen at 11:02 a.m.

"What has been a little difficult is the goodbyes," said astronaut Christopher Ferguson, Atlantis' commander, in a preflight interview with ABC News. "In terms of round numbers the shuttle workforce is 6,000 right now. A lot of people to say goodbye to in a short period of time."

This will be the 135th and final mission of NASA's 30-year shuttle program. Ferguson and three crewmates will ride Atlantis one last time on a supply run to the space station.

It is a quiet ending to a program that, in many eyes, never could live up to the promises made when it was conceived in the early 1970s. It was supposed to make spaceflight affordable, safe and routine. But 14 astronauts died in the Challenger and Columbia disasters, and flights have been estimated to cost about half a billion dollars each.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, himself a former astronaut, came to the shuttle's defense. And he promised that America's human spaceflight effort would continue, even as shuttle flights come to an end.

"I spent 14 years at NASA," he said at a speech in Washington, D.C., last week. "Some of the people I respect most in the world are my fellow astronauts. Some of my best friends died flying on the shuttle, and I am not about to let human spaceflight go away on my watch."

He became emotional when he said, "So when that final shuttle landing occurs and the cheers and tears subside, we will keep on moving toward where we want to go next. Your kids and my grandkids, they're going to do things that today we can barely dream of."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Final Countdown Begins for Space Shuttle Atlantis' Launch

NASA/Kim ShiflettUPDATE: Space shuttle Atlantis' scheduled July 8 launch date runs the risk of being postponed due to inclement weather.

"Right now we are going with a 60 percent chance of [Kennedy Space Center] weather prohibiting launch due to the potential for showers and isolated thunderstorms in the area," says Mission Weather Officer Kathy Winters.

(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- After taking the Fourth of July holiday weekend off, launch pad engineers are back at work in Florida as the final countdown for NASA's last space shuttle mission begins Tuesday.

On Monday, the four-man crew who will board space shuttle Atlantis -- Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim -- arrived at Kennedy Space Center, where they will continue training and spend some time with their families before blasting off into space on Friday.

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival, Commander Ferguson said, "I think I speak for the whole crew in that we are delighted to be here after a very arduous nine-month training flow and we're thrilled to finally be here in Florida for launch week."

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for lift-off on July 8 at 11:26 a.m.  As part of their 12-day mission to the International Space Station, Ferguson and his fellow astronauts will carry critical parts and goods to keep the station supplied for the next year.

Local officials expect a million people will line area roads to see the final flight of the space shuttle program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Atlantis Crew Trains, Readies for Final Space Shuttle Flight

NASA TV(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The four astronauts who will take part in NASA's final space shuttle mission next month are in Florida this week training and readying for their launch.

Space shuttle Atlantis' crew -- Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim -- arrived at the Kennedy Space Center Monday night to kick off their pre-launch countdown rehearsal.  Since then, the astronauts have practiced landings and emergency escape procedures, and have inspected the payloads inside the shuttle's cargo bay, according to NASA.

Speaking to reporters from the launch pad on Wednesday, Ferguson said, "I don't think that the full magnitude of the moment will really hit us until the wheels have stopped on the runway.  I'm not sure words will really be able to capture for the crew and for the entire shuttle workforce just how much the shuttle program has meant to us for the last 30 years."

Atlantis' flight, set for July 8 at 11:26 a.m. EDT, will be the final one for the space shuttle program.  The four-person crew will embark on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Worker Plunges to His Death at Kennedy Space Center

BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- A worker fell to his death at the Kennedy Space Center on Monday in what was believed to be the facility's first non-flight emergency in decades.

United Space Alliance engineer James D. Vanoverff fell from scaffolding -- some of which sits 200 feet above the ground's surface -- while working on the space shuttle Endeavor around 7:40 a.m. Monday. Medics rushed to launch pad 39A, where the shuttle is being readied for its April 19 launch, but were unable to revive the man.

All work at the site has been suspended for the day as NASA conducts an investigation of the incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shuttle Discovery Makes its Final Landing

NASA(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Space shuttle Discovery came down from a blue Florida sky, turned gracefully, and made its last-ever landing Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It was a quiet end to an nearly flawless 13-day mission, and a storied career for NASA's most-flown shuttle. Landing came at 11:57 a.m ET.

Sweetheart of the fleet, workhorse, rock star. Whatever words are used to describe Discovery, they don't seem to tell her story adequately.

The numbers tell the factual story: 39 missions, 365 days in space, 5,830 orbits of the Earth, 148,221,665 miles traveled. It has gone through 39 sets of landing-gear tires since its first flight in 1984.

But what did Discovery accomplish beyond the numbers? Nicole Stott, one of the astronauts on Discovery's final mission, said Discovery is remarkable.

"It is kind of cool that the vehicle named Discovery has this kind of history, the most flights," she said in a preflight interview with ABC News. "I think it really sums up what the space program is about -- it is about discovery."

Discovery flew both return-to-flight missions after its sister ships, Challenger and Columbia, were lost. It launched the Hubble Space Telescope. It carried John Glenn, one of America's first space pioneers, on his sentimental return to space in 1998. It assembled the first components of the International Space Station. It has flown more times than any other spaceship in history.

"Without Discovery, and the other space shuttles, we would not have built the space station," said Leroy Cain, NASA's deputy space shuttle program manager, who marveled how a 900,000-plus pound orbiting lab was assembled on orbit, thanks to the space shuttle. "Nothing else has the capability to carry up those big modules, and the parts needed to keep it functioning, it is truly a remarkable spacecraft."

The surviving space shuttles -- Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis -- are being retired this year. They are a 30-year-old fleet, and not capable to going beyond low Earth orbit. What is the next-generation spacecraft? Nobody is sure. Commercial companies such as SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin are competing with NASA to design new ships that will launch humans and cargo into space.

Until then, U.S. astronauts will hitch rides on other country's rockets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Space Shuttle Discovery Heading Back to Earth

NASA(HOUSTON) -- Space shuttle Discovery's final flight is about to reach its conclusion.

On Wednesday, the shuttle with the most missions of any other craft in the fleet is due to arrive back at Florida's Kennedy Space Center just before noon.  Once Discovery lands, it will eventually head to a museum.

Before leaving the International Space Station Tuesday, astronauts declared the shuttle was fit for return after finding no problems with the heat shield.

Discovery's final mission was actually extended from 11 days to 13 so that the Discovery crew could make some needed repairs and provide an extra room on the ISS.

Back on Earth, NASA's pre-flight mission management team chairman, LeRoy Cain, praised the crew, saying, "The entire space shuttle system just performed outstanding on this entire mission."

Discovery has flown the equivalent of 365 days during its 27-year career, spanning some 150 million miles.

Space shuttle Endeavour is due to launch on April 19, while Atlantis will fly the last shuttle mission on June 28.  From that point on, astronauts who want to go to and from the ISS will need to ride Russia's Soyuz space capsules.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NASA Scrubs Discovery Launch Again over Leak

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.) -- UPDATE: NASA has yet again scrubbed the launch of space shuttle Discovery -- this time over a hydrogen leak mission managers now call "significant," as well as unfavorable launch weather.  The shuttle won't leave the pad until at least November 30th.  The current launch window closes Monday and NASA doesn't want to rush the solution to the leak.

The shuttle was scheduled to launch at 3:04 p.m. ET Friday.  The leak, along with a chance of gusty winds at the time of the launch, forced the space agency to scrap its mission.

Discovery's launch has already been pushed back several times since Monday.

This will be Discovery's last mission.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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