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My Close Encounter with Atlantis

13 Oct 2012, 00:20 UTC
My Close Encounter with Atlantis
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

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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