At NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, the driver of a special tow vehicle prepares to help the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, with space shuttle Discovery attached atop, back out of the mate/demate device. Known as the MDD, the devise is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the SCA.
The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet that was originally manufactured for commercial use and modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. For more information on the SCA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-013-DFRC.html. For more information on shuttle transition and retirement activities, visit http://www.nasa.gov/transition. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis