Space Shuttle Discovery -- a storied 27-year
comes to a close --
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
orbits around Earth and a journey of 5,304,140 miles. View landing
above to watch 2.5-min. video of Space Shuttle Discovery's final landing at the Kennedy
Space Center on Mar.
(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
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
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
space station Mir in 1995 and was twice chosen as NASA's
"return-to-flight" shuttle, following the Challenger and Columbia
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.
Astronauts Who Have
Flown Aboard Space Shuttle Discovery
(Click here to see a complete listing of
all 133 NASA space shuttle flights.)
Space Shuttle Schematic
Top to Bottom: America's Orbital
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
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
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 Space.com.
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
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