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NASA’s last shuttle seen from space

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The space shuttle Atlantis is visible near the center of this DigitalGlobe satellite image, focusing on the heart of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The large structure toward the left is the 52-story-tall Vehicle Assembly Building, where the shuttle was being taken in preparation for flight. The building just to the left of the VAB is the Launch Control Center. The buildings at top center are orbiter processing facilities, the “garages” where the space shuttles are kept.

This picture turns the tables on the space shuttle Atlantis: Usually, the orbiter gets great views of Earth from space. Here, a satellite in space gets a great view of the orbiter on Earth. It’s even more amazing when you realize that DigitalGlobe’s satellte happened to be passing over Kennedy Space Center at midday on Tuesday, at just the time when NASA was moving Atlantis over from its orbiter processing facility to the 52-story-tall Vehicle Assembly Building.

Atlantis is now being mated with its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters inside the VAB, in preparation for NASA’s final space shuttle mission. Right now the launch is scheduled to take place in mid-July. Check out this preview story to learn more about Atlantis’ “rollover” and the STS-135 mission ahead. And for a ground-level view of the rollover, check out this picture and the others available from Kennedy Space Center’s media archive:


The shuttle Atlantis is parked in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building on Tuesday before being moved inside.

– Alan Boyle



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