How NASA Moves Space Shuttles: The Ultimate Piggyback Ride
NASA’s space shuttles are gearing up to make their final voyages — this time flying piggyback a special Boeing 747 jet on the way to museum retirement homes.
The space shuttle Discovery, which flew its last mission in March 2011, has been undergoing prep for museum life at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Fla. If weather permits, on Tuesday (April 17), Discovery will fly atop a modified Boeing jet to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., where it will spend the rest of its days.
After Discovery arrives at the Smithsonian, the museum’s current orbiter on display, the prototype shuttle Enterprise, will be loaded onto the same carrier aircraft to be ferried to its new home: the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.
The transportation of shuttles is a complicated affair, involving giant cranes and rejiggered Boeing jets. And in addition to a slew of complex equipment, the maneuver requires significant manpower.
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