Shuttle Endeavour moved to assembly building for March 10 rollout to pad

CBS News

With the shuttle Discovery orbiting overhead on its 39th and final flight, the shuttle Endeavour was hauled from its processing hangar to the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building Monday for attachment to an external tank a set of solid-fuel boosters.

If all goes well, Endeavour will be carried to pad 39A March 10 for work to ready the ship for blastoff April 19 on its 25th and final mission.

The primary goals of the 134th shuttle mission at to deliver a $2 billion particle physics detector to the International Space Station, along with supplies, spare parts and science gear.

The shuttle Endeavour was hauled to the Vehicle Assembly Building Monday for work to ready the ship for launch April 19. (Credit: Spaceflight Now/Stephen Clark)

Endeavour's external tank has been modified to prevent the sort of cracks in rib-like stringers that grounded Discovery for three-and-a-half months.

Discovery's tank appeared to work well during launch last Thursday and there were no known problems with the repaired stringers near the top of the "intertank" compartment where cracks were found after a Nov. 5 launch scrub.

Several pieces of foam insulation fell from Discovery's tank during the climb to space, but the shedding occurred well after the time when the dense lower atmosphere can cause high impact velocities. Engineers have found no signs of any significant heat shield damage.

Engineers and technicians pose with Endeavour amid preparations for its 25th and final flight. (Credit: NASA)
The analysis is not yet complete, but it does not appear any additional work will be needed for Endeavour's tank.

If all goes well, the shuttle's primary payload -- the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer -- will be taken to the launch pad March 24 for installation in Endeavour's cargo bay.

Shuttle commander Mark Kelly, pilot Gregory H. Johnson, Michael Fincke, Roberto Vittori, Andrew Feustel and Gregory Chamitoff plan to strap in for a dress-rehearsal countdown April 1 that will set the stage for launch.