NASA Prepares Atlantis Shuttle For $2 Million Transportation

By Michael Horton •  Updated: 05/25/09 •  2 min read

Now that Space Shuttle Atlantis [has landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California, the NASA team is working hard on preparing the shuttle for transport back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a transportation that will cost nearly $2 million USD.

NASA will use the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft or SCA, which are essentially two heavily modified Boeing 747 airliners – one being a 747-100 and the other is a shorter range 747-100SR. The Space Shuttle is attached to the top of the SCA using Mate-Demate Devices, which are large structures used to hoist the orbiter from the ground.

During early tests of using SCA as a transport vehicle for the Shuttle, the Shuttle was released from the SCA during a flight at over 30,000 feet and the Shuttle was able to glide down for a successful landing on its own without any engines powered.

The SCA has a maximum takeoff weight of 710,000 lbs, has a length of 231 feet and a wingspan of 195 feet.

Next Shuttle Mission

In about a week the Shuttle will have returned to Florida where it will be prepared for its next mission, the STS-129. The STS-129 shuttle mission is scheduled for November of 2009 and will be used to deliver components including two spare gyroscopes, two nitrogen tank assemblies, two pump modules, an ammonia tank assembly and a spare latching end effector for the station’s robotic arm to the International Space Station.

The next Space Shuttle flight, mission STS-127, is scheduled currently for June 13th 2009 for a 7:17AM launch time – weather permitting. The mission will deliver Timothy L. Kopra to the station as a flight engineer and science officer and return Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata to Earth. Hurley, Cassidy, Marshburn and Kopra will be making their first trips to space.

The Endeavor Shuttle will also deliver the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility and Experiment Logistics Module Exposed Section to the International Space Station.

The facility will provide a type of “front porch” for experiments in the exposed environment, and a robotic arm that will be attached to the Kibo Pressurized Module and used to position experiments outside the station. The mission will include five spacewalks.

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