Space Shuttle Discovery lands, for the last time, in Washington, D.C. (+video)
After saluting the nations capital from atop a modified jumbo jet, the Space Shuttle Discovery touched down at Dulles International Airport to be handed over to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
(Page 2 of 2)
Discovery is replacing the shuttle prototype Enterprise, which had been on display at the museum since 2003. Enterprise will be flown to New York on Monday (April 23) to be displayed at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum this summer.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Space photos of the day: Space Shuttle Discovery
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Leading the fleet into retirement
Discovery is the first of NASA's now retired shuttle fleet to embark on a new mission as a museum exhibit.
In April 2011, NASA also awarded shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles and retained Atlantis for its own visitor complex at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Endeavour will depart for the west coast in September; Atlantis is scheduled to be rolled down the road two months later in November.
Discovery was first promised to the Smithsonian in 2008. The fleet leader, Discovery spent more than 365 days in space over the course of its 39 missions, more than any other vehicle to launch and return from Earth orbit.
The third of NASA's orbiters to enter service, Discovery deployed the Hubble Space Telescope and the Ulysses solar probe and was the first spacecraft to recover satellites from orbit. It also returned the shuttle program to flight after the losses of Challenger and Columbia in 1986 and 2003, respectively.
Discovery was the first shuttle to visit the International Space Station and delivered its largest laboratory, among other components.
Visit shuttles.collectspace.com for continuing coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.
- How NASA Flies Space Shuttles on 747 Jets (Photos)
- Dance of Discovery: Spell-Binding Space Shuttle Music Video
- NASA's Space Shuttle Museum Flights: Complete Coverage