Discovery's Ferry Flight Targeted to Begin Friday

Shuttle teams at Edwards Air Force Base in California are targeting a mid-to-late morning Pacific time departure Friday, Sept. 18 to start space shuttle Discovery's cross-country ferry flight to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The exact departure time depends on all work being complete and local weather conditions.

The major milestone of attaching the tail cone over Discovery's engines is complete. Overnight, teams plan to lift Discovery and attach it to the top of a modified 747 aircraft by a little after sunrise tomorrow morning. That would put the team in the position to have the piggybacked shuttle and its support "pathfinder" aircraft leave Edwards by late morning before temperatures exceed the takeoff threshold of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot and dry conditions can create air-density issues for the very heavy 747 taking off.

Depending on the weather in route, Discovery is planned to arrive back at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility on Saturday.