Technicians from Kennedy Space Centre’s Orbiter Processing Facility are presently pulling her to bits to make her safe for the general public to play with!
Pictures below show the removal of the front nose where lies the forward reaction control system (FRCS), or in layman’s terms an array of tiny little rocket engines used to control the precise movements and orientation of the shuttle in Space. As such, these tend to contain toxic explosive material and so it all needs a good clean out. The engines will also be removed and replaced with replicas, and the originals put into storage for possible use at a later date with a future spacecraft.
Only two more space shuttle flights now remain, with Endeavour due to fly on mission STS-134 on April 19th 2011, to be followed in June this year by the last historic shuttle flight ever by Atlantis.
Click on the images below to enlarge.