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Photo Gallery: On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

September 21, 2010 — Space shuttle Discovery arrived early Tuesday at Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to be readied for its final mission to space. STS-133 is scheduled to lift off on Nov. 1 with a crew of six, delivering a new storage module for the International Space Station (ISS). The flight will mark Discovery's 39th launch and the second-to-last for NASA's nearly 30-year space shuttle program.

Hours after Discovery was secured atop Pad 39A, collectSPACE joined a small group of media for a rare opportunity to photograph the spacecraft from above and below during a tour of the launch complex. Later on Tuesday, the pad's rotating service structure (RSS) will be moved to surround Discovery, hiding the orbiter from view but also protecting it and providing access to load its payload as it is prepared to launch to space one last time.

Photo credit: collectSPACE/Robert Z. Pearlman
 

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

Above and below: Discovery as viewed from the pad's surface, standing below the mobile launch platform and rotating service structure.

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery   On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

Below: After an elevator ride to the pad's 255-foot level and climbing stairs to ascend even higher, Discovery is seen from above.

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery   On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

Above and below: At the 195-foot level is the access arm leading to the "white room" through which the astronauts board the shuttle.

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery   On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

Above and below: Discovery, its twin solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank tower over the deck of the mobile launch platform.

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery   On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

Above: The three main engines (SSMEs) and orbital maneuvering system (OMS) engines that will propel Discovery into and while in orbit.

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

On the launch pad with space shuttle Discovery

Earlier: Space shuttle Discovery makes last trip to launch pad

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