New York Times l Discovery Shuttle Makes Final Flight

April 17, 2012 § 7 Comments

Final Take Off for Space Shuttle Discovery

Before being permanently brought down to Earth, the space shuttle Discovery hitched a final ride on Tuesday to its new home at the Smithsonian on the back of a 747.

Many in Washington took a break to scan the sky and snap pictures of the crafts, oddly conjoined like two springtime dragonflies, as they made a series of ceremonial flyovers of the capital.

Spectators stopped their cars or headed to rooftops to catch a glimpse, exclaiming on Twitter after each successful sighting.

On the Twitter account of the Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA posted pictures, some with Instagram’s age-imitating filters, giving the final flight a bit of the feel of its first, in August 1984.

The shuttle arrived from its final airborne journey at Washington Dulles International Airport late on Tuesday morning. After being carefully prepared — with an aerodynamic tail cap — and attached to the jumbo jet over the weekend, it was set to dismount for a last ride, by land, to the Virginia annex of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

NASA provided a sunrise photo of the four-wing, two-tail craft — described as a modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft — along with a short history of the space shuttle program on its Web site:

NASA’s space shuttle fleet began setting records with its first launch on April 12, 1981 and continued to set high marks of achievement and endurance through 30 years of missions. Starting with Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour, the spacecraft has carried people into orbit repeatedly, launched, recovered and repaired satellites, conducted cutting-edge research and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station. The final space shuttle mission, STS-135, ended July 21, 2011 when Atlantis rolled to a stop at its home port, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Below is video of from Discovery’s final launch into space in February of 2011:


NASA Space Shuttle Discovery Launch

By J. David Goodman

April 17th, 2012

New York Times l Discovery Shuttle Makes Final Flight

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§ 7 Responses to New York Times l Discovery Shuttle Makes Final Flight

  • David says:

    We seem to be a long way from the hope and vision that JFK inspired. I am quite sad to see the dismantling of the space program. Our children can now look to Apple (oops China), or Boeing (oops – compiled from everywhere) for their inspiration. Not sure Exxon inspires many dreamers.

  • Cynic says:

    She looked absolutely perfect from the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Seems like all of Capitol Hill turned out to bid her farewell – as well as an amazing number of tourists lining the Mall. This is the very reason I love living in DC, and why I’m planning to retire right here. Big things happen in this little town. Why would I retire to Hooterville?

  • Rudolph NYC says:

    Watched it on both BBC and CNN. Quite frankly boring. Poor vision, few people on the ground in DC were watching, cameras not “razor” sharp, frankly unclear where that Shuttle was in relation to DC and especially The White House. And to top it off to be on the back of a 747 it felt like looking at an old picture of grandma. The US indeed has lost all power, and creativity, and is living in the past. Moving right along…

  • Aspen says:

    Is that safe?

  • Scott says:

    Proof that America could lead if it so chose to do so. Very Proud to be American while watching shuttle program.

  • Robert N says:

    Just got back from watching the last flight of the shuttle Discovery as it passed over the western edge of Fairfax county after doing a 90 minute circle of the metro Washington DC. Local roads were affected, with cars puling over to road shoulders and adjacent grass areas to view the flyby, Some areas of Washington along the Potomac had 2 very low passes and the rt 28 corridor of Faifax near Dulles had 3 opportunities. Area schools took a mid morning break so that students could witness history as the shuttle passed overhead. Someone with the NASA -Smithsonian planning did an excellent routing as phone calls to friends in the area confirmed the thrill of the various opportunties to view. Today was just like the 4th of July, with everyone clapping and cheering as Discovery flew overhead. Numerous videos are now posted on hulu.

  • Moises J says:

    I got to see the space shuttle on its final lap 10 minutes before landing. Very impressive. I wonder what’s going to take for the U.S. to get back to leading in the space frontier. Kuddos to all NASA personnel that made this possible.

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