Space shuttle Discovery ready for voyage to museum [PHOTOS]Posted: Updated:
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Space shuttle Discovery has one last mission to complete.
On Tuesday, the leader of NASA's retired shuttle fleet will leave its home at Kennedy Space Center for the final time. It's bolted atop a modified jumbo jet that's parked on the old shuttle landing strip. At daybreak Tuesday, the jet will take off for the Washington, D.C., area. The plane and shuttle will make a farewell flight over Cape Canaveral before heading north.
Space center workers posed for pictures in front of Discovery on Monday. The six astronauts who flew Discovery's final space trip a year ago also were on hand for the emotional tribute.
Discovery, which made its maiden spaceflight on Aug. 30, 1984, is the first of NASA's three remaining space shuttles to head to a museum. It's going to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Discovery completed 39 missions. In 1988, it was the first orbiter to return to space after the Challenger exploded less than 90 seconds after lift-off on Jan. 28, 1986. It 1999, it became the first shuttle to dock with the International Space Station.
Discovery blasted off on her final flight on Feb. 24, 2011.
According to NASA, individuals in the Washington metropolitan area will have the opportunity to see Discovery before it lands at Dulles International Airport.
Though the exact route and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints, the SCA is expected to fly at approximately 1,500 feet near a variety of landmarks in the area, including the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor and the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center.
Some publicly accessible locations from which you may be able to “Spot the Shuttle” are listed below. If you take pictures, feel free to post them on the Space Shuttle Discovery Flickr Group and if you’re on Twitter, you can tweet them using the hashtag #spottheshuttle.
District of Columbia
- The National Mall, including Memorial Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the east end
- Hains Point/East Potomac Park, south of the Jefferson Memorial and the 14th Street Bridge
- Southwest Waterfront Park
- Long Bridge Park, 475 Long Bridge Drive, Arlington
- Old Town Alexandria Waterfront
- Gravelly Point, just off the George Washington Parkway, near National Airport
- National Harbor, just off the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Prince George’s County
Discovery's last lift-off