Space shuttle Discovery was wheeled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on one of the massive crawler-transporters toward launch complex 39A – and its final mission – STS-133.
This marks the second trip out to the launch pad for Discovery; the orbiter had to be taken back to the VAB for scans and repairs.
“We fully expect that this will be the last time that Discovery will make this trip horizontally,” said Allard Beutel, NASA’s news chief at Kennedy Space Center. “The next time she travels – it will be vertically – to the International Space Station.”
Discovery began its slow, methodical trek out to the launch pad at 8 p.m. EDT. The trip lasted some six hours, as the pondering crawler-transporter that hauls the spacecraft out to the launch pad moves at a blistering one mile an hour.
Discovery’s final mission is a resupply flight to the International Space Station. The orbiter will ferry a modified cargo carrier, the Leonardo Permanent Multi-purpose Module along with much-needed supplies and the first human-like robot to fly into space – Robonaut-2. The crew consists of commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Michael Barratt, Alvin Drew, Nicole Stott and Steve Bowen.