NASA’S OLDEST AND most-travelled space shuttle is going on its final journey today – by plane.
The space shuttle Discovery is being transported via jumbo jet from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Washington’s Smithsonian Institute, where it will be put on display.
NASA suspended its 30-year shuttle programme last July. Its first spacewalks were carried out on its tenth shuttle mission and over the three decades of the programme, 802 crew members were sent into space.
It took four years to build the shuttle before the Discover’s space flight career began with its first launch in August 1984. It carried out 39 flight to and from space before being retired last year. It was the third shuttle to join the NASA fleet and became the oldest in service.
The shuttle was named after two historic ships of the past, according to NASA: “One was a vessel used by Henry Hudson in the early 1600s to explore the Hudson Bay and search for a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”
“The other was one of two ships used by the British explorer James Cook in the 1770s. Cook’s voyages in the South Pacific led to the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands.”
In pictures: Discovery missions from 1984 to 2011: