orbiter is towed to the Orbiter Processing Facility
within hours of its arrival, either after landing at
KSC or returning aboard a ferry flight on the Shuttle
Carrier Aircraft. The facility has three almost identical
high bays, each of which is 197 feet (60 meters) long,
150 feet (46 meters) wide, 95 feet (29 meters) high,
and encompasses a 29,000-square-foot (2,694-meter) area.
A low bay connects high bays 1 and 2. It is 233 feet
(71 meters) long, 97 feet (30 meters) wide and nearly
25 feet (eight meters) high. High bay 3, built last,
also has an adjacent low bay. Annexes and portable buildings
provide additional shop and office space.
Each high bay comes equipped with a 30-ton
(27-metric-ton) bridge crane with a hook height of approximately 66 feet
(20 meters). Platforms, a main access bridge and two rolling bridges with
trucks provide access to various parts of the orbiter. The trucks have a
telescoping arm with rotatable buckets to hold workers. The high bays have
an emergency exhaust system in case of a hypergolic fuel spill. The low
bay contains areas for electronic, mechanical and electrical equipment, a
communications room, offices and supervisory control rooms. All bays have
fire protection systems.
In addition to routine postflight servicing and
checkout, many of the vehicle modifications needed for future flight
requirements, or to enhance vehicle performance and correct deficiencies,
are performed in the Orbiter Processing Facility.
Spacecraft or payloads processed through checkout in a
horizontal position, usually the larger ones such as Spacelab, are
installed in the orbiter in this facility. Spacecraft handled in a
vertical position normally are installed at the launch pad.
After processing, the orbiter
is usually towed into the Vehicle Assembly Building transfer