Monday, September 22, 2008

Picture of the Day -

This picture is quite amazing, and it is probably the last time that you may see this. Both Space Shuttle Atlantis and Space Shuttle Endeavour are out on launch pads together ready for an upcoming mission. Atlantis is the nearer of the two and is being prepped for the last mission to the Hubble telescope to do repairs and add additional hardware. This being the case if something is to go wrong with the spacecraft and it cannot return to Earth, Endeavour will be launched as a rescue vehicle.

Because the Hubble telescope is in a very different orbit to the International Space Station Atlantis would not be able to dock there is there was a problem with the orbiter. If any reason crops up Endeavour will be launched and the crew will transfer to the rescue ship and the damaged Shuttle will be destroyed on re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. NASA have said that this is just a contingency plan and that they do not expect to have to have two shuttles in space at the same time. What it does do is give us ordinary folk a great new wallpaper for our desktop and also the last chance to see two Space Shuttles on the launch pad at the same time, for the last time (probably).

Bigger versions are available here.

Thanks to Tom's Astronomy Blog for this.

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