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Space Shuttle Discovery
-- a storied 27-year career comes to a close --

Space Shuttle Discovery touches down at KSC on its final mission
Discovery touches down Mar. 9, 2011 on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center on its final mission (STS-133)

Discovery, the world's most traveled spaceship, made its final touchdown and homecoming at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wed. Mar. 9, 2011 at 11:57 am EST (Thurs. 1:57 am in Japan). In its final mission, STS-133, for NASA's Space Shuttle Program, Discovery completed 202 orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,304,140 miles. View landing video below.

Click above to watch 2.5-min. video of Space Shuttle Discovery's final landing at the Kennedy Space Center on Mar. 9, 2011.
(If player above is not visible, you can view video at YouTube here.)

Discovery is also NASA's oldest space shuttle & has been in operation since making its maiden flight on Aug. 30, 1984. In those 27 yrs. it has completed 39 missions, including 13 trips to the International Space Station (more than any other spacecraft), logged 365 cumulative days in space (yes, an entire YEAR), over 148 million miles traveled, and over 5800 orbits around the Earth.

Discovery has carried 246 crew members (more than any other shuttle), including the first female shuttle pilot (Eileen Collins), 5 Japanese astronauts (Naoko Yamazaki, Koichi Wakata, Soichi Noguchi, Akihiko Hoshide, and Chiaki Mukai -- see their photos below), the oldest person to fly in space (John Glenn), the first African-American spacewalker (Bernard Harris), the first Russian cosmonaut to fly on an American spacecraft (Sergei Krikalev), and the first sitting member of congress to fly in space (Utah Senator Jake Garn).

Discovery Mission STS-131 in April, 2010 made history by setting a record for the most women in space. Discovery's three female crew members--Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, and Naoko Yamazaki--joined Tracy Caldwell Dyson at the International Space Station, between them becoming the first time ever that four women were in space at one time.

It was also the Discovery which launched the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990. Discovery was the first shuttle to rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir in 1995 and was twice chosen as NASA's "return-to-flight" shuttle, following the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

Following this mission (STS-133, NASA's 133rd space shuttle flight), Discovery will be the first of the shuttle fleet to retire, and is now on its way to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Kudos to Space Shuttle Discovery for one amazing career! Farewell, Discovery. Enjoy your retirement.

Japanese Astronauts Who Have
Flown Aboard Space Shuttle Discovery

Japanese Astronaut Chiaki Mukai Japanese Astronaut Koichi Wakata Japanese Astronaut Soichi Noguchi Japanese Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide Japanese Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki
Chiaki Mukai
STS-95 (October 29-November 7, 1998)
Koichi Wakata
STS-92 (October 11-24, 2000)
STS-119 (March 15-28, 2009)
Soichi Noguchi
STS-114 (July 26-August 9, 2005)

Akihiko Hoshide
STS-124 (May 31- June 14, 2008)

Naoko Yamazaki
STS-131 (April 5-20, 2010)
(Click here to see a complete listing of all 133 NASA space shuttle flights.)

Space Shuttle Schematic
Top to Bottom: America's Orbital Workhorse

Having grown up in Houston, Texas, the home of the NASA Space Center, I've been a big fan of manned spaceflight ever since grade school. But how could I have NOT been?  smiley

Known as the "Space City," my hometown is thoroughly branded with "space." Well, for starters, there is the Houston Astrodome, the world's first domed sports stadium and original home stadium for the Houston Astros MLB baseball team. And then there's the Houston Rockets NBA basketball team.

In fact, glancing quickly at a Houston business phone book, you'll see hundreds of companies with some form of the root word "Astro" as part of their name. And let us not forget AstroTurf, the world's original artificial grass invented specifically for the Houston Astrodome after the natural grass inside would not grow properly.

While researching the history of Space Shuttle Discovery, I ran across the amazing infographic below, which I have decided to share on this page, courtesy of

It is my hope that you find this page informative. Thank you for visiting my website.


The space shuttle Discovery — NASA's most-flown space plane — left NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 17, 2012, flying atop a specially modified Boeing 747 to Washington, D.C., where it will take up residence at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

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