We finally are getting back to flying again! Over the last 4 years, it has been frustrating having long processing times with no payoff. Almost a fifth of our techs were hired after Columbia’s last flight and worked on vehicles without seeing them launch.
Atlantis was nicknamed the Penguin or Opus (for you Bloom County fans) by the workers in OPF-1 because it was rolled to the VAB ready to stack for its mission during Columbia’s flight, then rolled back to the OPF on 3/14/03. It rolled out to the VAB on 12/5/03 for jack proofloading in OPF-1 then rolled back on 12/16/03.
It “sat” for two years during the NASA’s investigation and preps for return to flight, where it changed missions and had to be deconfigured and reconfigured. It rolled out on 07/22/05 to the VAB for it’s flight and came back on 09/06/05. Almost a year later, it rolled to the VAB on 07/24/06 and rolled to the pad from the VAB on 08/04/06. It was rolled halfway back to the pad on 08/29/06 for a hurricane that changed course at the last minute, then went back to the pad. It launched on 09/09/06 and came back to OPF-1 on 09/21/06.
This year, it rolled out on 02/07/07, made it a out to the pad, then received hail damage to the tank and was rolled to the VAB on 03/02/07. Atlantis rolled from the VAB to the pad on 5/15/07 and is now sitting ready for launch on the 6/08/07. (Dates courtesy of OPF-1 Midbody Shop)
This black and white bird has more ground miles on it than any other orbiter, hence the nickname! Not a reference to its flight reliability, just seems to be the one experiencing the “roll back” thing.