Shuttling a shuttle

During the space shuttle program, NASA used a specially modified 747 to move orbiters from Edwards Air Force Base back to Cape Canaveral, Fla. when conditions prevented a landing at Cape Canaveral. A similar process is being used to deliver the shuttles to their new homes at various U.S. museums. Later this year, the shuttle Endeavor will be flown from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Edwards and then transported over city streets to its new home at Exposition Park’s California Science Center. Return to story

The carrier jet | Inspecting the shuttle | Adding the tail cone | Raising the shuttle | Attaching the shuttle to the 747

Shuttle is hoisted and receives a vi­su­al in­spec­tion. Residual fuel is flushed from en­gine valves and plumbing; other tox­ic sub­stanc­es re­moved.

Technicians secure aerodynamic 10,000-pound aluminum tail cone that helps eliminate aerodynamic drag during flight.

Engine nozzles and elevons are locked in place. Shuttle is raised 60 feet to accommodate mounting on the 747 carrier.

The 747 is towed into place and the shut­tle is attached to three struts that match fit­tings on the ex­ter­nal fu­el tank used at launch.


Readers: What’s your take? Share it here.