Click to enlargeSTS114 Discovery Rollout Photo

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At NASAís Kennedy Space Center, Space Shuttle Discovery, atop the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP), crawls toward Launch Complex 39B. Barely visible on the horizon at right is Pad 39A. First motion out of the Vehicle Assembly Building occurred at 2:04 p.m. EDT. The rollout marks a major milestone in the Space Shuttle Programís Return to Flight.

The MLP is moved by the Crawler-Transporter underneath, which stands 20 feet high, 131 feet long and 114 feet wide. It moves on eight tracks, each containing 57 shoes, or cleats, weighing one ton each. Loaded with the Space Shuttle, the Crawler can move at a maximum speed of approximately 1 mile an hour. A leveling system in the Crawler keeps the Shuttle vertical while negotiating the 5 percent grade leading to the top of the launch pad.

Launch of Discovery on its Return to Flight mission, STS-114, is targeted for May 15 with a launch window that extends to June 3. During its 12-day mission, Discoveryís seven-person crew will test new hardware and techniques to improve Shuttle safety, as well as deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

Date: April 6, 2005 br>Photo credit: NASA

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