Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Retirement of Discovery

The space shuttle Discovery took one last flight leaving from NASA's Florida spaceport this past Tuesday (April 17). After thirty years of service, it is going on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum just outside Washington, D.C. Discovery was the leader of NASA's space shuttle fleet and, having launched in 1984, the oldest of the three shuttles remaining. Both Columbia and Challenger debuted earlier, but were lost along with their crews in tragic accidents.

Discovery is known as the world's most often flown spacecraft, having flown thirty-nine space missions and traveling a distance that is the equivalent of over 300 flights to the moon and back. Even more impressively perhaps is that it is the shuttle responsible for deploying the Hubble Space Station in April, 1990.

Eager viewers were able to snap photos on Tuesday as Discovery made its last flight, seen here on top a modified Boeing 747 jet.

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