Yesterday saw the last switch of Space Shuttle orbiters as Endeavour left the OPF headed out to the VAB to be replaced by Atlantis. This will be the last time the two orbiters meet as Endeavour will head off to California on September 20th headed out to it’s final resting place at the California Science Center.
Endeavour was kitted out with the now familiar tail cone to improve aerodynamics during its up coming piggy back flight on top of the specially converted 747 known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). When she next leaves the 526 foot high VAB hanger the Shuttle will head out to the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) and the Mate/Demate device where it will be attached to the SCA.
Meanwhile Atlantis was headed back to the OPF for the final stages in the saving of its systems prior to being rolled over the the Kennedy Space Center on November 2nd. When the Shuttles are in flight trim they contain a lot of harmful toxins and other contaminants. The removal of these substances are required before the craft is deemed safe for people to visit.
While the Space Shuttles were playing switch-a-roo we had a camera recording a time-lapse video inside the VAB to watch Atlantis leave and a while later Endeavour arrive.