Pre-Flight Activities, Rarely Seen by the General Public
However, these pictures deserve a wide viewing audience: the amount of thought and engineering that goes into every launch is immense; each successful take-off represents the Mankind's finest effort, and is a wonder to behold.
External tank arrives by barge from Louisiana:
External tank approaches Vertical Assembly Building (VAB):
Removing external tank:
Preparing to lift the tank to vertical:
Lifting the tank:
Solid rockets are attached:
Orbiter: External tank with Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB):
Engines are attached to the shuttle in the Orbiter Processing Facility:
Shuttle in sling ready for lift in VAB:
Shuttle has been moved to VAB and will be attached to external tank:
Shuttle is attached:
Payload Preparation in Space Station Processing Facility:
Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM):
Payload carrier leaves Canister Rotation Facility:
Payload being moved to Launch Pad:
Lifting payload into position for insertion into "Discovery"
when it arrives at the pad:
Shuttle "Discovery" leaves VAB:
Trip to launch:
Length - 3 1/2 mi
Time - 6-8 hours
Arrow indicates the Launch Pad.
"Discovery" arrives at Pad:
(image credit: NASA / Ken Thornsley)
Ready for Launch:
(image credit: NASA / Scott Andrews)
We Have Lift Off !
(image credit: NASA - click to enlarge)
Images courtesy Christie L. Dyett and Amanda Diller - NASA Space Coast Launch Services