Multi-billion dollar traffic jam

By Phil Plait | August 22, 2012 6:30 am

I’ve been stuck in some epic traffic jams, but I think this one wins:

Those are the Space Shuttle orbiters Endeavour and Atlantis [click to embiggen] at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Endeavour has just finished being processed for travel, and will soon be on its way to California to eventually go to the California Science Center in LA. Atlantis is staying at Kennedy Space Center itself at the Visitor’s Center.

Funny – a year ago I posted a similar picture Endeavour and Discovery, saying it was the last time we’d see a shot like that. I guess I was wrong.

Either way, there won’t be too many more like this… but soon we’ll be launching humans back into space once again. My hope is that when we do it’ll be easier, less expensive, more reliable, and the beginning of not just tentative toes-in-the-water, but plunging full into the ocean of space.

Image credit: NASA

Related Posts:

Discovery makes one final flight… but we must move on.
Two Shuttles, nose to nose
The last views of Endeavour and ISS
The fiery descent of Atlantis… seen from space!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures, Space

Comments (17)

  1. Carey

    I’d like to think that, instead of giving each other the finger and yelling and cursing, the drivers of those two vehicles are simply locked in a “No, I insist you go first” loop.

  2. Jeff J

    “…easier, less expensive, more reliable…”

    Kind of like Soyuz?

  3. Wondering what’s being done with all the Solid Rocket Boosters that flew and were recovered? Any museums getting them? Anyone know?

    Guess there are /were no left over external tanks either?

    PS. Good youtube clip linked to my name here – Riding the Booster with enhanced sound ‘ posted by Interbartolo whose Space Shuttle clips still blow me away every time I (re)watch them. The Bad Astronomer also has a post on this – Ride an SRB video into Space posted 4th of March 2011 at 12:00 PM which is longer but starts off soundlessly.

  4. Chris

    Reminds me of a Washington state law
    When two trains come to a crossing, neither shall go until the other has passed.

  5. @2. Jeff J :

    “…easier, less expensive, more reliable…”
    Kind of like Soyuz?

    Hopefully like SpaceX and others and maybe NASA itself in future.

    Although daring mighty things and pushing the boundaries of engineering and new human accomplishments generally comes with high risks and costs. Which are, I think, well worth taking and paying given what can be gained and learned and attained.

    PS. BA’s post SRB ride~wise linked to my name here.

  6. Phil,
    This actually IS the final time. See this source for confirmation:

    Ben H.
    Mission Control, Houston

  7. Scott P.

    So how do you move a 75-ton space shuttle orbiter from Florida to Los Angeles?

  8. ND

    I wish they had one with all three shuttles together.

    Of course then there is this shot of two shutles on launch pads, at the same time (fine and dandy :)

  9. Interbartolo whose Space Shuttle clips still blow me away every time I (re)watch them.

    Cannot resist providing these three superluminous examples of my faves of those for y’all :

    I.) STS-134 Ascent Highlights Endeavour orbiter’s final flight :

    II.) STS-130 Ascent Highlights Endeavour orbiter night launch :


    III.) STS-129 Ascent Video Highlights full Version Atlantis orbiter :

    If you haven’t seen these before watch & enjoy ’em. :-)

    If you *have* seen ’em before also watch them and enjoy them all over again. I always do. :-)

    If y’know, you want to. 😉

    These clips are how I’ll always remember these marvellous spacecraft rising into the heavens on pillars of fire, perhaps the greatest wonders that human hands and minds and toil ever have yet designed, built and flew behind only the Saturn V-Apollo for all their imperfections and failure to quite live up to their early SF spaceplane turned reality promise.

  10. TychaBrahe

    @Scott P.
    On the back of a 747 with special reinforcing struts through what would be the body. That’s how they got out there in the first place. They were all assembled in Palmdale, California, and the first landings were at Edwards AFB, just up the road from Palmdale.

    “The Eagle has landed, tell your children when.
    Time won’t drive us down to dust again.” —Leslie Fish

  11. Ferris Valyn


    I suspect that most of the SRBs were used until they were no long usable, and then sold for scrap. There might be some left over, but I think the few that still exist are preped for SLS (which will never fly)

    As for the ETs – those always burnt up on re-entry. Those that were not completed probably also sold for scrap.

    As for vehicles to go into Space – NASA does not need its own vehicles. We understand how to do that quite well. Thats why Boeing, SpaceX, and SNC are building vehicles – to serve NASA and other users.

    Regarding the 747 – whats interesting is it doesn’t have the range to fly it across the ocean. So it would’ve been interesting if it ever had to land somewhere other than the US.

  12. Wzrd1

    @Ferris, I suspect MTU was thinking what I am thinking.
    How impressive an exhibit that the SRB’s and external tank would make with the shuttle.
    Most people don’t comprehend the scale until they’re right up close to it.

  13. Ferris Valyn

    Wzrd1 – I have no doubt that it would be a cool exhibit – in fact, if you want to see something close to that, Huntsville has something like that.

    That said, you don’t have to have the actual SRBs to make an SRB looking full scale model

  14. Ben

    This was also done back in March. This was the third and final swap where two orbiters were outside at once. So yes, this is the last time officially there will be two shuttles in one view. Even during the active program, this was a rarity.

  15. Scott B

    “we’ll be launching humans back into space once again”

    Yay. “Private” industry will take us back to the early 60s!

  16. Ferris Valyn

    Scott B – you’ll have to explain that comment, since
    1) No vehicle from the 60s could deliver astronauts at the price point being discussed
    2) No vehicle could carry more than 3 people (all 3 vehicles are 7 people)


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