On Thursday, May 27, 2010, the final set of six space shuttle solid rocket booster segments arrived in Titusville, Florida, just north of Kennedy Space Center, after completing a cross-country journey from Alliant Techsystems' (ATK) Promontory, Utah factory. The next day, after being transferred to the NASA Railroad train, the segments were driven the final leg over the Indian River and onto Kennedy Space Center property to a rail siding near Complex 39 from where the shuttle launches, to will await their processing.
"It's another one of the lasts in the shuttle program," said shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach after riding with the segments from Jacksonville to Titusville. "I remember the last space shuttle main engine test firing, the last test firing of a booster out in Utah, the last [external] tank to go through the assembly line down at MAF [Michoud Processing Facility] and now the last set of boosters coming in. So it is one more last in the shuttle program and it's kind of sad."
The six segments, the last of the 1,328 cast since 1974, will join others delivered earlier to be stacked in NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building to create two 149-foot solid rocket boosters (SRBs). The pair, the last of 146 sets, will launch Atlantis if the final space shuttle flight, Endeavour's STS-134 mission, needs an emergency rescue.
"It's kind of bittersweet," ATK's deputy director for Florida operations Ted Shaffner told collectSPACE. "I have been very fortunate, I worked on STS-1 and so I was able to work on the first shuttle flight and then to ride the train down with the last set is kind of a neat experience. But at the same time it is pretty sad to see the end of the program, especially something this phenomenol."
Photo credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett/Jack Pfaller/Jim Grossmann and collectSPACE