Space Shuttle Discovery Becomes Museum Exhibit

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 2:35 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

More than a year after its last mission, the retired U.S. space shuttle Discovery was officially welcomed into its new home.

The shuttle rolled into the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington Thursday where it will go on permanent display. Among those on hand for the ceremony was former astronaut and U.S. senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.

The retired shuttle arrived in Washington Tuesday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, atop a specially outfitted Boeing 747 jumbo jet. It circled several Washington landmarks to the delight of onlookers before arriving at nearby Dulles Airport.

Discovery was first launched in 1984 and flew 39 missions, more than any other shuttle in the fleet. Among its highlights is the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990, the first shuttle docking with the International Space Station, and Glenn's return to space in 1998 at the age of 77, making him the oldest human to fly in space. It also flew the first “Return to Flight” missions after two other shuttles were destroyed in fatal accidents.

Discovery was retired last year, along with its sister shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour.

Endeavour will go on permanent display at a science museum in Los Angeles, while Atlantis will remain at the Kennedy Space Center for display.

Discovery is replacing Enterprise, the first U.S. space shuttle, at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Enterprise was used as an Earth-bound test vehicle and never flew into space. It will be moved next week to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.