News

    Retired Space Shuttle to Hitch a Ride to US Capital

    The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft arrives at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:35 p.m. EDT to prepare for space shuttle Discovery's ferry flight to Virginia.
    The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft arrives at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:35 p.m. EDT to prepare for space shuttle Discovery's ferry flight to Virginia.

    Before NASA's space shuttle Discovery was retired, it

    • Completed 39 missions.
    • Spent 365 days in space.
    • Orbited the Earth 5,830 times.
    • Traveled a total of 238,539,663 kilometers.

    NASA's space shuttle Discovery has traveled more than 238 million kilometers in space, and the now retired orbiter has roughly 1,000 kilometers more to go before its final stop.  It will leave the Kennedy Space Center on April 17, bound for a museum.  

    One Last Flight


    It was a little more than a year ago that the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on its final mission.  

    The 28-year-old orbiter will take off from the southern state of Florida one last time.  But for this voyage, it will not be blast off a launch pad.  Instead, it will hitch a ride on the back of one of NASA's specially outfitted Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

    Valerie Neal is a space history curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum here in Washington.  Her dangling earrings in the shape of space shuttles are only one indication of her excitement about Discovery's final flight.

    "We're very excited about that because Discovery will be flown on top of a 747 carrier aircraft, and it will do a flyaround here in the metropolitan [Washington, D.C.] area so that people around Washington will be able to see this very unusual sight," Neal says. "It will land, and then it will go off to a private part of the airport to be offloaded from the carrier aircraft."

    Inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, an overhead view shows space shuttle Discovery in high bay 4 with the Astrovan alongside. The Astrovan was used to transport astronauts to Launch Complex 39 for space shuttle missions. April 5, 2012 (NASA Photo)
    Inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, an overhead view shows space shuttle Discovery in high bay 4 with the Astrovan alongside. The Astrovan was used to transport astronauts to Launch Complex 39 for space shuttle missions. April 5, 2012 (NASA Photo)

    Discovery's Unveiling

    John Glenn signs the wall of the clean room leading into space shuttle Discovery in Orbiter Processing Facility-1 OPF-1 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Glenn is at the space center to mark the 50th anniversary of being the first American astron
    John Glenn signs the wall of the clean room leading into space shuttle Discovery in Orbiter Processing Facility-1 OPF-1 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Glenn is at the space center to mark the 50th anniversary of being the first American astron
    On April 19, Discovery will be unveiled as part of the collection at the museum's Udvar-Hazy center, just outside the capital.  Some of Discovery's famous former passengers will be in attendance, including astronaut John Glenn - who in 1962 was the first American to orbit the Earth.  He returned to space on Discovery in 1998.    

    The Air and Space Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world, with its main location in downtown Washington, near the city's grand monuments and attractions.  The museum's Udvar-Hazy annex alone attracts more than a million visitors each year.
    But as the museum gains one famous piece, it will lose another.  The world's first space shuttle, Enterprise, has been part of the Smithsonian's collection since 1985.  Discovery will replace Enterprise, and that shuttle will catch a piggyback ride on the 747 to New York City, where it will go on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

    Smithsonian curator Valerie Neal explains that Enterprise is a test vehicle that never flew in space, so it does not have the same rich history as orbiters such as Discovery.    

    "It [i.e., Discovery] will look just like [the shuttle atmospheric test vehicle] Enterprise does, except instead of being white and black and looking brand new, it's more beige and gray," say Neal.  "It looks like it's been to space and back 39 times, and that's how we want it to look."

    At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery arrives outside Orbiter Processing Facility-1 (OPF-1) after stopping for a unique
    At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery arrives outside Orbiter Processing Facility-1 (OPF-1) after stopping for a unique "nose-to-nose" photo opportunity outside OPF-3 with shuttle Endeavour. (NASA Photo) Shuttle Retirement


    NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, who has flown on Discovery and is now on the International Space Station, says the 30-year-old shuttle fleet has earned its retirement.

     

    "It brought up some spectacular observatories into space and some satellites, and it helped build this nearly 1,000,000 pound [i.e., almost 453,600 kilograms] world class laboratory [i.e., the International Space Station] that we have the great privilege of working and living aboard for six months," Burbank says. "I think having the space shuttles in museums where people can come and see them and learn about them and learn about the wonderful technology, I think it'll be a good thing."

    Rounding out the retired shuttle fleet are Endeavour and Atlantis, which will go to California and Florida.  NASA's two other shuttles, Challenger and Columbia, were destroyed in flight, killing all astronauts on board.

    The U.S. space agency retired the shuttle fleet last year to focus on developing the next generation of spacecraft that will travel beyond low earth orbit.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: historianMI
    April 18, 2012 6:51 AM
    This was not a "voyage" by any reasonable definition. It was a final short trip from Cape Canaveral to a museum; almost a funeral procession viewed by thousands of mourners. And Obama has not plans whatsoever for any new space program. Leave that to Russia, China and North Korea (!!)

    by: HARSHAN MENON
    April 17, 2012 11:52 PM
    Arrival at Kennedy space center ?
    Would like to know public opinion:

    LIKE - YES OR NO

    UNLIKE - YES OR NO

    HARSHAN
    PROPRIETOR
    IMC

    SKYPE : harshan.menon1
    MOBILE: 0091 9388793618
    EMAIL : cgimenonbus@yahoo.com

    by: Stephane luako Lombo
    April 16, 2012 1:54 AM
    It was at edge of space technology,but it is time for N.A.S.A to pursue its innovative edge and switch to the next generation of technology,to keep its and look forward.
    Mr.Stephane luako Lombo-Kinshasa-D.R.Congo

    by: kris
    April 13, 2012 10:54 PM
    it was weird

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora