Atlantis sits on Pad 39-A this afternoon. photo: Atkeison/SLNTechnicians here at the Kennedy Space Center continue to prepare space shuttle Atlantis at the pad for her upcoming launch on mission STS-125 in one month on a servicing flight to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Late next week, Atlantis will have some company as KSC will rollout the STS-127 shuttle stack and Endeavour out to launch pad 39-B. Endeavour will stay at pad B up until Atlantis launches on May 12th, and will then move to pad A a few days later to prepare for her launch in mid-June.
Endeavour would launch from pad 39-B if Atlantis ran into trouble while on orbit. Known as rescue mission STS-400, Endeavour would fly up to Atlantis to rescue her crew. NASA's next manned space craft rocket, Ares, will begin test launches from pad B beginning in late-August. This journalist spent a few moments at both pads today at noon and took these two images to show you how Pad B now differs a bit from Pad A as they prepare B for Ares flights.
Space shuttle program managers discussed keeping the Endeavour stack in the VAB instead of out at pad B, however it would have caused work delays on the following two shuttle flights set for August and November.