The space shuttle Endeavour, the designated rescue ship for next month's Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission in case something goes awry, was hauled from its processing hangar to the vehicle assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Fla., early Friday.
Inside the vehicle assembly building, the shuttle will be attached to an external tank and solid-fuel boosters. Rollout to pad 39B is planned for April 17.
The shuttle Atlantis already is mounted atop pad 39A for work to ready the ship for blastoff on May 12, at 10:31 a.m. PDT, on a fifth and final mission to service and upgrade the space telescope. It is the only flight left on NASA's shuttle manifest that is not bound for the International Space Station.
Because the Hubble Space Telescope and the space station are in different orbits, the Atlantis crew cannot seek safe haven aboard the lab complex if the shuttle experiences any sort of problem that might prevent a safe re-entry. As a result, NASA is processing Endeavour in parallel for a quick-response launch from pad 39B if a rescue mission is required.