Space-shuttle makes final journey to Virginia
Crowds gathered across the US capital on Monday to see Space Shuttle Discovery make its final trip to a museum in Virginia, piggy-backing a modified Boeing 747 jumbo-jet. The oldest and most-travelled US space-craft flew over Washington and the capital’s most treasured landmarks, where people stopped and applauded.
Lifting off in Canaveral, Florida, the shuttle treated the crowds by circling over the capital for an hour, allowing them to get their final photographs of the great craft in the sky, escorted by a T-38 fighter-jet. The shuttle, which has made 39 journeys to space with its first in 1984, appeared worn and scuffed as it made its poignant last trip in the skies before landing at Dulles International.
Today a ceremony will be held at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre in Chantilly, Virginia, to celebrate the addition of the craft that spent 365 days in space and flew nearly 149 million miles. The spectacular craft took its last mission to space in February and March last year during a 13-day trip to the International Space Station.
Discovery goes on display as the first of three crafts to have retired last year. Space Shuttle Endeavour began its final trip to space in April and the 30-year US programme ended after Atlantis returned to Earth for the last time in July 2011. There was a prototype Enterprise; however this craft never made it into space. This marks the end of NASA sending astronauts into space as only now Russia can send them in their Soyuz capsules.
Discovery will be replacing Enterprise at the Udvar-Hazy Centre as its main attraction, and Enterprise will take to the skies for a fly over New York for its final journey on 23rd April. The great craft will then be on display at New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.