I’ve mentioned the STS-134 mission a few posts ago. This will be Endeavour’s last flight into space, carrying the big particle detector AMS-02. NASA has a bunch of photos of the roll-over up on their website, which you can visit by clicking the above image.
Some background on what exactly a roll-over is. Roll-over is when the Orbiter (that’s the big black and white thing that looks like an airplane) is taken from it’s hanger, the Orbiter Processing Facility(OPF) and wheeled over into the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where it will be mated to it’s solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank. This is a big milestone for all the people working on the orbiter, because it represents turning over control of the orbiter from the test and maintenance folks to the operational folks. At this point, most of the engineers and technician’s who work on the orbiter on a regular basis say goodbye to the vehicle, until it comes back at the end of the mission. After about a week or so in the VAB, Endeavour will be ready to roll out to the launch pad. There is then about a month more work to do, getting ready for the launch on April 12th.
I had the privilege to work on the orbiters for 3 semesters while I was finishing up school. Endeavour in particular was the orbiter that I spent the most amount of time working on, so I feel a bit of nostalgia, knowing this is her last flight into space.
Endeavour was actually built as a replacement for the Challenger, when she was lost in a launch explosion in 1986. She is the youngest orbiter, and the one with the fewest miles and missions to her credit. I won’t go into too many details, as the NASA link there lays it all out, if you’re interested.