Gallery: Discovery gets disassembled, prepped for retirement

It's been just a few weeks since the space shuttle Discovery returned from her last mission to orbit, and already she's being partially disassembled and cleaned to prepare her for her final resting place, replacing Enterprise at the Smithsonian.

The pictures in the gallery below show technicians at Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility removing the forward reaction control system (FRCS) from Discovery's nose. The FRCS is an array of little rocket engines used to help shuttles make precise movements and change their orientation. Being rocket engines, they tend to be filled with a bunch of explosively toxic chemicals, so the whole assembly needs to be cleaned out and de-blowupified before tourists will be allowed to poke it. The engines themselves will be removed and replaced with replicas, while the originals will go into storage to potentially be used on a future launch vehicle.

Also in the gallery are some other pics (from different missions) to give you a better sense of what the Orbiter Processing Facility looks like.

NASA and KSC, via Spaceflight Now

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