Atlantis has arrived back at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on top of the SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) Tuesday morning, following a cross-country piggyback ride back from California. However, engineers are struggling to remove her from the SCA.
In tandem, mating operations with Endeavour and ET-117 – along with the twin Solid Rocket Boosters – will begin soon, after the orbiter was lifted over to the stack, after literally hanging out inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) overnight.
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Thousands of people watched Atlantis return from various vantage points, including nearby Cocoa Beach.
‘We’ve had a great ferry mission across the country, which took us a few days, but it really went very well’ said KSC manager and Flight Controller Leroy Cain, speaking next to Atlantis and the SCA on the SLF runway.
‘Atlantis is in great shape as you can see – and we’re really glad to have her back here and have her processed for the next mission in December.
‘We really appreciate the effort of all the folks on the ground team here to receive us and it’s great to be home.’
Due to the extended trip – mainly due to weather – safing of the vehicle will involve a number of engineers having to work through the July 4 holiday.
The latest news is Atlantis remains on top of the SCA and hasn’t yet been removed. High powered lights have been placed around the MDM (Mate De-Mate) facility next to the SLF, as engineers continue to work to free her, ahead of the trip back to her OPF.
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