Space Shuttle Discovery’s Final Flight

Space Shuttle Discovery’s Final Flight

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.

As humanity’s first reusable spacecraft, the space shuttle pushed the bounds of discovery ever farther, requiring not only advanced technologies but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA’s field centers and across the nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater goal of space exploration.

After 30 years of spaceflight, more than 130 missions, and numerous science and technology firsts, NASA’s space shuttle fleet will retire and be on display at institutions across the country to inspire the next generation of explorers and engineers.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday announced the facilities where four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program.

1. Shuttle Enterprise, the first orbiter built, will move from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.

2. The Udvar-Hazy Center will become the new home for shuttle Discovery, which retired after completing its 39th mission in March.

3. Shuttle Endeavour, which is preparing for its final flight at the end of the month will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

4. Shuttle Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in Florida.

Shuttle Discovery Prep

Shuttle Discovery Prep (201204120004HQ) (explored)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA Flow Director, Orbiter Transition & Retirement, Stephanie S. Stilson talks on her cell phone from inside a portable tool shed nicknamed the “Tiki Hut” at Washington Dulles International airport, Thursday, April 12, 2012, Sterling, VA. Stilson and her team are preparing for the arrival of the space shuttle Discovery which is currently scheduled to arrive at Dulles on April 17.

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Arrives at Kennedy Space Center (KSC-2012-1999)

Photograph by NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft parks near the mate/demate device at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The aircraft, known as an SCA, arrived at 5:35 p.m. EDT to prepare for shuttle Discovery’s ferry flight to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Va., on April 17.

This SCA, designated NASA 905, is a modified Boeing 747 jet airliner, originally manufactured for commercial use. One of two SCAs employed over the course of the Space Shuttle Program, NASA 905 is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. NASA 911 was decommissioned at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in California in February

 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Arrives at Kennedy Space Center (KSC-2012-2000)

Photograph by NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft comes to a stop on the apron of the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Overhead View of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA)

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Arrives at Kennedy Space Center (KSC-2012-2004)

Photograph by NASA/Kim Shiflett

This overhead view shows Shuttle Carrier Aircraft parked on the apron of the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery Rolls Out Of The Vehicle Assembly Building

Discovery Rolls Out Of The Vehicle Assembly Building (KSC-2012-2055)

Photograph by NASA/Kim Shiflett

Space shuttle Discovery rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, into darkness for its trip to the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF.

Discovery Ready For Mate-Demate Device

Discovery Ready For Mate-Demate Device (KSC-2012-2100)

Photograph by NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Space Shuttle Discovery’s move from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, is complete as the sun comes up over NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A tail cone has been installed over its three replica shuttle main engines to reduce aerodynamic drag and turbulence during its upcoming ferry flight.

Discovery Ready For Mate-Demate Device

Discovery Ready For Mate-Demate Device (KSC-2012-2099)
Photograph via NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Space shuttle Discovery is towed into position at the mate-demate device, or MDD, at the Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The MDD is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of an SCA.

Sling Attached To Discovery

Sling Attached To Discovery (KSC-2012-2142)

Photograph via NASA/Kim Shiflett

At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery’s front wheels hover above the ground inside the mate-demate device. Operations are under way to position Discovery on top of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

Discovery Atop SCA Backs Out MDD

Discovery Atop SCA Backs Out MDD (KSC-2012-2255)

Photograph by NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying space shuttle Discovery backs out of the Shuttle Landing Facility’s mate-demate device at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The device, known as the MDD, is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the aircraft, or SCA.

 Discovery Atop SCA

Discovery Atop SCA (KSC-2012-2260)

Photograph by NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying space shuttle Discovery is on the ramp of the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Earlier, the duo backed out of the mate-demate device.

 Discovery Mated To Shuttle Carrier Aircraft

Discovery Mated To Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (KSC-2012-2292)

Photograph by NASA/Tim Jacobs

At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with space shuttle Discovery secured to its back is parked on the tarmac awaiting departure from Kennedy.

SCA Awaits Take Off with Discovery Atop

SCA Awaits Take Off with Discovery Atop (KSC-2012-2340)

Photograph by NASA/Jim Grossmann

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft transporting space shuttle Discovery to its new home prepares to take off from the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at about 7 a.m. EDT

 SCA Takes Off From KSC Carrying Discovery

SCA Takes Off From KSC Carrying Discovery (KSC-2012-2346)

Photograph by NASA/Jim Grossmann

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft transporting space shuttle Discovery to its new home takes off from the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at about 7 a.m. EDT. The duo are heading south to fly over Brevard County’s beach communities for residents to get a look at the shuttle before it leaves the Space Coast for the last time.

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over (201204170050HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Donald E. Hurlbert

Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) flies near the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in Washington.

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over (201204170045HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Rebecca Roth

Discovery, the first orbiter retired from NASA’s shuttle fleet, completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles. NASA will transfer Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum to begin its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and to educate and inspire future generations of explorers.

 Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over (201204170008HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Robert Markowitz

Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), flies over the Washington skyline as seen from a NASA T-38 aircraft, Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over (201204170009HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Robert Markowitz

Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), flies over the Washington skyline as seen from a NASA T-38 aircraft, Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over (201204170010HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Robert Markowitz

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over

Space Shuttle Discovery DC Fly-Over (201204170012HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Robert Markowitz

 Space Shuttle Discovery Dulles Fly-Over

Space Shuttle Discovery Dulles Fly-Over (201204170026HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Sean Smith

Space Shuttle Discovery mounted atop a 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) flies over Washington Dulles International Airport, early Tuesday April 17, 2012, in Sterling, Va.

 Shuttle Discovery Fly-Over

Shuttle Discovery Fly-Over (201204170015HQ).jpg

Photograph by NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Dane Penland

Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) flies over the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in Chantilly, Va

Space Shuttle Discovery Ready For Demate

Space Shuttle Discovery Ready For Demate (201204180001HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Space shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) is seen a few hours before being demated at Washington Dulles International Airport, Wednesday, April 18, 2012, in Sterling, VA.

 Space Shuttle Discovery Landing

Space Shuttle Discovery Landing (201204170013HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Dane Penland

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, at podium, speaks to those in attendance at Apron W after the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with space shuttle Discovery mounted on top rolled to a halt at Washington Dulles International Airport, Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in Sterling, Va.

 Space Shuttle Discovery Ready For Demate

Space Shuttle Discovery Ready For Demate (201204180004HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with the space shuttle Discovery mated on top rolls into position for demating at Washington Dulles International Airport, Wednesday, April 18, 2012, in Sterling, VA.

 Shuttle Discovery Is Demated From SCA

Shuttle Discovery Is Demated From SCA (201204190007HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Workers monitor the lift of the space shuttle Discovery from the the NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) at Washington Dulles International Airport, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Sterling, VA.

Space Shuttle Discovery at Night

Space Shuttle Discovery Ready For Demate (201204180005HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA will transfer Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum to begin its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and to educate and inspire future generations of explorers.

 Shuttle Discovery Is Demated From SCA

Shuttle Discovery Is Demated From SCA (201204190011HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Workers monitor the lift of the space shuttle Discovery from the top of the NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) at Washington Dulles International Airport, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Sterling, VA.

Space Shuttle Discovery

Space Shuttle Discovery Ready For Demate (201204180007HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Discovery, the first orbiter retired from NASA’s shuttle fleet, completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles.

Shuttle Discovery

Shuttle Discovery Is Demated From SCA (201204190002HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

 Shuttle Discovery

Shuttle Discovery Is Demated From SCA (201204190012HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Interior of commercial-industrial premises with bed and dresser. Details unknown, but assumed to be premises used for illegal abortions. Late 1930s.

 Shuttle Discovery

Shuttle Discovery Is Demated From SCA (201204190004HQ)

Photograph by NASA/Bill Ingalls
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