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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space shuttle Discovery rolls into position beside the mate-demate device, or MDD, at the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A tail cone has been installed over its three replica shuttle main engines to reduce aerodynamic drag and turbulence during its upcoming ferry flight.    The MDD is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA. The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth.  The SCA designated NASA 905 is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites.  Discovery’s new home will be 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 KSC-2012-2103

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space shuttle Discovery rolls into position beside the mate-demate device, or MDD, at the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A tail cone has been installed over its three replica shuttle main engines to reduce aerodynamic drag and turbulence during its upcoming ferry flight. The MDD is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA. The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. The SCA designated NASA 905 is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. Discovery’s new home will be 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 KSC-2012-2103

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space shuttle Discovery rolls into position beside the mate-demate device, or MDD, at the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A tail cone has been installed over its three replica shuttle main engines to reduce aerodynamic drag and turbulence during its upcoming ferry flight. The MDD is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA. The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. The SCA designated NASA 905 is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. Discovery’s new home will be 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

The Space Shuttle program was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011, administered by NASA and officially beginning in 1972. The Space Shuttle system—composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank— carried up to eight astronauts and up to 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). When its mission was complete, the orbiter would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and lands as a glider. Although the concept had been explored since the late 1960s, the program formally commenced in 1972 and was the focus of NASA's manned operations after the final Apollo and Skylab flights in the mid-1970s. It started with the launch of the first shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, on STS-1. and finished with its last mission, STS-135 flown by Atlantis, in July 2011.

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14/04/2012
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