Entries in Space Shuttle Discovery (5)


Space Shuttle Discovery Takes Off One Last Time

NASA/Tim JacobsUPDATE: The Space Shuttle Discovery, mounted on a 747 carrier aircraft, flew over the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday before being delivered from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to its final home, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution in northern Virginia.

(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- After 39 missions since its first flight in 1984, space shuttle Discovery took off one last time on Tuesday to head to its final resting place -- a museum in Washington, D.C.

The retired space shuttle departed at daybreak from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, where it made its final landing over a year ago on March 9, 2011. 

Propped atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747, Discovery will fly over the nation's capital before landing in Dulles International Airport.  It will then be transported to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Shuttle Discovery Makes its Final Landing

NASA(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Space shuttle Discovery came down from a blue Florida sky, turned gracefully, and made its last-ever landing Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It was a quiet end to an nearly flawless 13-day mission, and a storied career for NASA's most-flown shuttle. Landing came at 11:57 a.m ET.

Sweetheart of the fleet, workhorse, rock star. Whatever words are used to describe Discovery, they don't seem to tell her story adequately.

The numbers tell the factual story: 39 missions, 365 days in space, 5,830 orbits of the Earth, 148,221,665 miles traveled. It has gone through 39 sets of landing-gear tires since its first flight in 1984.

But what did Discovery accomplish beyond the numbers? Nicole Stott, one of the astronauts on Discovery's final mission, said Discovery is remarkable.

"It is kind of cool that the vehicle named Discovery has this kind of history, the most flights," she said in a preflight interview with ABC News. "I think it really sums up what the space program is about -- it is about discovery."

Discovery flew both return-to-flight missions after its sister ships, Challenger and Columbia, were lost. It launched the Hubble Space Telescope. It carried John Glenn, one of America's first space pioneers, on his sentimental return to space in 1998. It assembled the first components of the International Space Station. It has flown more times than any other spaceship in history.

"Without Discovery, and the other space shuttles, we would not have built the space station," said Leroy Cain, NASA's deputy space shuttle program manager, who marveled how a 900,000-plus pound orbiting lab was assembled on orbit, thanks to the space shuttle. "Nothing else has the capability to carry up those big modules, and the parts needed to keep it functioning, it is truly a remarkable spacecraft."

The surviving space shuttles -- Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis -- are being retired this year. They are a 30-year-old fleet, and not capable to going beyond low Earth orbit. What is the next-generation spacecraft? Nobody is sure. Commercial companies such as SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin are competing with NASA to design new ships that will launch humans and cargo into space.

Until then, U.S. astronauts will hitch rides on other country's rockets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Space Shuttle Discovery Heading Back to Earth

NASA(HOUSTON) -- Space shuttle Discovery's final flight is about to reach its conclusion.

On Wednesday, the shuttle with the most missions of any other craft in the fleet is due to arrive back at Florida's Kennedy Space Center just before noon.  Once Discovery lands, it will eventually head to a museum.

Before leaving the International Space Station Tuesday, astronauts declared the shuttle was fit for return after finding no problems with the heat shield.

Discovery's final mission was actually extended from 11 days to 13 so that the Discovery crew could make some needed repairs and provide an extra room on the ISS.

Back on Earth, NASA's pre-flight mission management team chairman, LeRoy Cain, praised the crew, saying, "The entire space shuttle system just performed outstanding on this entire mission."

Discovery has flown the equivalent of 365 days during its 27-year career, spanning some 150 million miles.

Space shuttle Endeavour is due to launch on April 19, while Atlantis will fly the last shuttle mission on June 28.  From that point on, astronauts who want to go to and from the ISS will need to ride Russia's Soyuz space capsules.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Space Shuttle Discovery Undocking from Space Station

NASA(HOUSTON) -- Space shuttle Discovery will undock from the International Space Station Monday for the last time as it prepares to make its descent back to Earth.

The space shuttle is scheduled to undock from the space station at 7:00 a.m. EST.  It will then conduct a full-lap fly-around of the space station before finally separating from it at 8:43 a.m.

On Wednesday, Discovery is scheduled to make its final flight back to Earth, touching ground just before noon.  Once grounded, the space shuttle will eventually head to a museum.

Earlier on Monday, Astronauts on board woke at 3:23 a.m. to the theme from Star Trek, with a personalized message from William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk on the TV series.

Replacing the show's original introduction, Shatner told Discovery crew members, “Space, the final frontier.  These have been the voyages of the Space Shuttle Discovery.  Her 30-year mission: To seek out new science.  To build new outposts.  To bring nations together on the final frontier.  To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before.”

The theme from Star Trek was chosen as the crew's wake-up song after receiving the second most votes in a public contest held by NASA to select the astronauts' wake-up tunes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Space Shuttle Discovery to Begin Final Mission

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Space shuttle Discovery is set to lift off Thursday on its final mission.

The shuttle will travel to the International Space Station one last time to conclude its 26-year career. Discovery taxied the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and returned pioneering astronaut John Glenn to space, among its other accomplishments.

The milestone mission is also making news for its passenger, a humanoid named Robonaut 2. This will be the first time NASA has used an anthropomorphic robot for space work. Robonaut 2 will unpack cargo and perform basic tests.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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