Dismantling the Space Shuttle Program as presented by: The Atlantic

NASA's Space Shuttle program continues to wind down, with only two more launches planned -- the final one taking place in June (if funded). NASA Administrator Charles Bolden recently announced four facilities where shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently in New York, California, Florida, and Washington, D.C. At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Launch Pad 39B, originally designed for the Apollo program and later customized to support the Space Shuttle, is currently being taken apart in preparation for future missions with new, post-shuttle launch systems. Space Shuttle Discovery -- which landed for the final time last month after having flown 39 missions, traveling 148,221,675 miles -- now sits inside Orbiter Processing Facility-2, as it's inspected, disassembled, and prepared for its new life as a public exhibit. Collected here are some images of the 29-year old program's last days. Red spray paint marks the spot where the nose landing gear of space shuttle Discovery stopped after it landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Wednesday, March 9, 2011. A marker will be placed in the runway to mark the final spot where Discovery ended its career as the world's most flown spaceship. A large crane dismantles a level of the fixed service structure (FSS) on Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The structure was designed to support the unique needs of the Space Shuttle Program. The new design will feature a "clean pad" for rockets to come with their own launcher, making it more versatile for a number of vehicles. Shuttle Atlantis' three main engines take center stage to the banners commemorating the orbiters that served the Space Shuttle Program.

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