Space Shuttle Endeavour sits on the launch pad for STS-127. In minutes, she leaves the pad, escapes Earth’s gravity, and orbits at 17,000 miles per hour. However, it takes a lot of work to get her ready for that big moment. After she returned from her last mission, she was given a complete overhaul. Her rockets were removed, rebuilt, retested, and reinstalled. The heat resistant tiles lining her belly and leading edges were gone over with a fine toothed comb and replaced. All controls were checked and rechecked. The flight control configuration and mission-specific software were loaded into the computers. Then she rolls over from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building. The VAB, an Apollo-era building, is where she is lifted all the way to the top of the 400-plus foot tall building and into one of the stacking towers. There, she is put on the Mobile Launch Platform and mated to the Solid Rocket Boosters and the External Fuel Tank. The MLP then travels on the massive Crawler-Transporter to the launch pad, in this case it was LC-39A. There, her payload is loaded and she is made ready for launch.
Don’t believe me? Hit the jump for a video.
[Image Credit: Public Domain]