Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery lands at the Smithsonian

Streams of smoke trail from the main landing gear tires as space shuttle Discovery touches down on Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Photo credit: NASA/Linda Perry and Chad Baumer
NASA has just announced that Space Shuttle Discovery, the longest-serving orbiter in the space shuttle fleet, will be transferred to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum collection.

After a period of preparation and delivery, the orbiter will be placed on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar of the Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Photo: NASA

Discovery has earned a place of honour in the collection of national treasures preserved by the Museum as the champion in the space shuttle fleet, having achieved an especially rich history in its 27-year career.  The longest-serving orbiter, Discovery flew 39 times from 1984 through 2011 – more missions than any of its sister ships – spending altogether 365 days in space. Discovery also flew every type of mission during the space shuttle era and has a record of distinctions. Discovery well represents the full scope of human spaceflight in the period 1981-2011.

Space Shuttle Enterprise, currently on display at the Center, will be transferred to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.

• The date Discovery will go on display is not known yet, but for more information and a selection of photos, visit the Museum’s special Discovery website: http://www.nasm.si.edu/collections/discovery.cfm

Discovery Landmarks
  • Satellite delivery and retrieval, US Department of Defense, scientific, Hubble Space Telescope, Mir, and space station assembly, crew exchange, and resupply missions
  • Three Hubble Space Telescope missions: deployment (1990) servicing (1997, 1999)
  • Highest crew count: 246
  • First non-astronaut to fly on space shuttle, Charles Walker (1984)
  • Flown aboard Discovery: US Senator Jake Garn (1985) and Senator John Glenn (1995)
  • Served as Return-to-Flight vehicle after Challenger and Columbia tragedies (1988, 2005)
  • Flown by first African American commander, Frederick Gregory (1989)
  • Piloted by first female spacecraft pilot, Eileen Collins (1995), and by Pamela Melroy on her first flight as pilot (2000)
  • Flew 100th shuttle mission (2000)
  • Flown by both women commanders, Eileen Collins (2005) and Pamela Melroy (2006)
  • Made first visit to Mir, rendezvous without docking (1995)
  • Made final docking visit to Mir space station (1998)
  • Made first docking with International Space Station (1999)
  • Delivered trusses, Harmony node, Kibo laboratory module, Robonaut2, Leonardo module, and tons of supplies to International Space Station (1999-2011)

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