The retired Space Shuttle Discovery is now sitting on top of NASA's modified jumbo jet, in preparation for its delivery to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
NASA mounted space shuttle Discovery on a jumbo jet Sunday (April 15), in preparation for the retired orbiter's delivery to the Smithsonian. The paired air- and spacecraft are expected to depart Florida for Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning (April 17), weather permitting.
Discovery's mating to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), NASA's modified Boeing 747 jetliner, came a day later than the space agency had planned. On Saturday, wind gusts at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility set the 167,000 pound (75,300 kilogram) Discovery swaying under its lift sling, posing a risk that it could impact the Mate Demate Device (MDD), the gantry-like steel structure used to hoist the shuttle onto the jetliner.
Workers reconvened at 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT) on Sunday, to finish retracting the shuttle's landing gear. They then raised the orbiter 60 feet (18 meters) off the ground so that the carrier aircraft could be positioned underneath. Discovery was then lowered onto the jumbo jet's three protruding attach points to achieve a "soft" mating.
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