Discovery To Make Last Flight With A Fly Over Washington Metro Area
By Jim Douglas
April 11, 2012 - NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
(SCA) with space shuttle Discovery mounted atop will fly
approximately 1,500 feet above various parts of the
Washington, D.C. metropolitan area on Tuesday, April 17
for its last flight.
The flight, in cooperation with the Federal Aviation
Administration, is scheduled to occur between 10 and 11
a.m. EDT. NASA Television and the agency's web site will
provide live coverage.
The exact route and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints. However, the aircraft is expected to fly near a variety of landmarks in the metropolitan area, including the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor and the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center. When the flyover is complete, the SCA will land at Dulles International Airport.
Discovery completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in
space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled
148,221,675 miles. NASA will transfer Discovery to the
National Air and Space Museum to begin its new mission
to commemorate past achievements in space and to educate
and inspire future generations of explorers.
(OV-103) was NASA's third space shuttle orbiter to join the
fleet, arriving for the first time at the Kennedy Space Center
in Florida in November 1983. After checkout and processing, it
was launched on Aug. 30, 1984, for its first mission, 41-D, to
deploy three communications satellites.
inaugural flight, Discovery has completed more than 39
successful missions, surpassing the number of flights made by
any other orbiter in NASA's fleet. Just like all of the
orbiters, it has undergone some major modifications over the
years. The most recent began in 2002 and was the first carried
out at Kennedy. It provided 99 upgrades and 88 special tests,
including new changes to make it safer for flight.
has the distinction of being chosen as the Return to Flight
orbiter twice. The first was for STS-26 in 1988, and the second
when it carried the STS-114 crew on NASA's Return to Flight
mission to the International Space Station in July 2005.
of the name "Discovery" carried on a tradition drawn from some
historic, Earth-bound exploring ships of the past. One of these
sailing forerunners was the vessel used in the early 1600s by
Henry Hudson to explore Hudson Bay and search for a northwest
passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Another such ship
was used by British explorer James Cook in the 1770s during his voyages
in the South Pacific, leading to the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands.
In addition, two British Royal Geographical Society ships have carried
the name "Discovery" as they sailed on expeditions to the North Pole and
exploring the heavens instead of the seas, it was only fitting that
NASA's Discovery carried the Hubble Space Telescope into space during
mission STS-31 in April 1990, and provided both the second and third
Hubble servicing missions (STS-82 in February 1997 and STS-103 in
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