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Beyond Apollo

My Close Encounter with Atlantis

13 Oct 2012, 00:20 UTC
My Close Encounter with Atlantis
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On March 11, 1989, NASA nearly ran me over with the Space Shuttle Atlantis. No, really.

Beyond Apollo is a space history blog. I was going to write at this point that this post isn’t about space history, but then I noticed to my consternation that it is. The images below date from March 11, 1989, going on a quarter-century ago. Except for the last, I snapped them with my little film camera. I post them now because of all the excitement about Endeavour (which, I just realized with a start, was still being assembled when these pictures were taken) and its 12-mile cruise across LA. Enjoy!

This is Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 2 (OPF-2) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

The doors open, revealing the tail end of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The three main engines are visible; their bells have red covers.

NASA’s objective on this fine spring evening was to move Atlantis from OPF-2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where it would be mated to its twin Solid Rocket Boosters and External Tank. To do this, the ground team attached an airport-type tractor by a tow bar to the orbiter’s front landing gear.

I ...

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