In case you missed it, NASA announced today – the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle program and the 50th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight by Russian Yuri Gagarin – that the space shuttle Discovery will make its final home at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center as part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum collection. The 27 year-old orbiter is the longest-serving shuttle of the retiring space fleet and has flown every type of mission during its career.
It will take a place of honor that is currently occupied by the Enterprise as the original ‘test’ orbiter relocates to its new home at the Intrepid Museum in New York City. The Enterprise has been in place since the opening of the center in 2003.
Discovery flew a total of 39 missions, from satellite deliveries to the Hubble, DoD projects to the Russian space station Mir. It retired after returning to Earth on March 9. The venerable orbiter has spent a total of 365 days in space and flown a number of special missions, including the 100th shuttle mission in 2000 and was the first shuttle to fly under an African-American commander.
It will be several months before Discovery is delivered to Udvar-Hazy. “An acquisition of this importance happens rarely in the life of a museum,” said Air and Space curator Dr. Valerie Neal. “It is an honor and privilege to welcome Discovery into the national collection, where it will be displayed, preserved, and cared for forever.”
I’m looking forward to going out to Dulles when it arrives to see it 1.) in the air, and 2.) docked on top of a 747. I hope they make that “delivery” ceremony public or at least tell us when it’s happening.
Oh, ditto. If I do find out any info, you can be sure I’ll post it; it’s too great a photo opportunity to pass up.
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