The astronaut transfer van, also known as the Astrovan, is a NASA vehicle used at the Kennedy Space Centre to transport astronauts from the Operations and Checkout Building to the launch pad before a launch mission, to the pad for launch dress rehearsals, and back to Operations and Checkout Building following a shuttle landing.
According to driver Ronnie King, the astronauts like the history-filled vehicle, even if it is somewhat old, and even argued against upgrading the vehicle. "We were staged to get a new one," King said, and added that word came that the rookie astronauts wanted to keep the vehicle that was a tradition of the astronauts who travelled those nine miles to the pad before them.
During the twenty-minute drive from the Operations and Checkout Building to the launch pad for shuttle launches, the Astrovan usually stops at least once along the way. An astronaut rides with the crew to the Shuttle Landing Facility, and is let off there to board the Shuttle Training Aircraft and assess local weather conditions. Senior NASA management often ride along as well, and are dropped off at the Launch Control Centre.
The current model, best known as the Astrovan, is a modified 1983 Airstream Excella 280 motorhome, and has been in use since the STS-9 mission in November 1983.
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