Space Shuttle Discovery on Launch Pad 39A
Catch a glimpse of Space Shuttle Discovery at dusk on Launch Pad 39A. The RSS is still blocking the view of the shuttle, but being THIS close to it is more amazing than the view itself!
The launchpad from where the Discovery shuttle launched from is located on Merritt Island, Florida (not far from Cape Canaveral). The launch pads were first built for the enormous and historically significant Apollo / Saturn V rockets. As you recall, they launched American astronauts on their epic journeys to the Moon and back.
The identical pads (A and B) are octagonal in shape and expand across about .25 square mile. The hardstand upon which the shuttles launch are 390 feet x 325 feet. Pad A stands at 48 feet above sea level, and Pad B stands at 55 feet above sea level.
RSS stands for Rotating Service Structure, the vertical structure that contained the Payload Changeout Room to provide access to the orbiter’s payload bay, facilitated fueling and loading of crew and cargo into the shuttle, and offered protection from natural elements and heavy wind.
A supply tower equipped with an elevator allows access to maintenance and crew. Just before ignition, the service structure slowly swings away from the craft.
The Rotating Service Structure stands at 130 feet, extends 50 feet wide, and 102 feet long.
The structure is retracted before launch.
The hypergolic umbilical system carries hypergolic fuel and oxidizer lines and helium and nitrogen service lines from the fixed service structure to the space shuttle orbital maneuvering system pods.
Incredibly sophisticated stuff!
Be sure to watch the video of the final launch of Discovery Shuttle’s last journey into space!