Friday, October 28, 2011

The White Room

This is the access arm used by crews to enter the Space Shuttles. It was installed 45 meters up in Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center. The first crew to board via this arm was the ill-fated Challenger mission in 1986. It was also used by STS-26 for the return to flight following Challenger. A total of 53 Shuttle missions boarded via this arm from Pad 39B.

The arm led to the White Room, a sealed area from which astronauts entered the spacecraft. The room also contained racks for helmets and equipment. Shuttle astronauts rode to the pad without their headgear, which was donned as they boarded. The White Room, access arm and rotating service structure swung away after the hatch was closed. Pad 39B hosted launches until 2006.

Atlantis (right) on Pad 39-A and Endeavour (left) on 39-B during 2009. Pad 39-B has lightning towers installed in anticipation of the Ares 1-X test. In 2009 this pad was briefly used by Endeavour as a backup for STS-125, the last Hubble Space Telescope repair flight. After STS-125 returned safely, Pad 39-B was modified for the Ares 1-X test. On October 18 the Servicing Arm and White Room arrived in Johnson Space Center, where they will be put on permanent display. Pad 39-A, where crews launched for the Moon, has been kept intact for the future.


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