Space Shuttle Discovery made it’s way around the Washington Monument, the White House and the Capitol before landing at the Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.
The Space Shuttle departed from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday morning. Almost 2,000 people which included, former shuttle workers, VIPs, tourists and journalists, gathered along the shuttle landing strip to see Shuttle Discovery take off. Cheers were made as the plane taxied down the runway and soared into the sky.
The Space Shuttle Discovery, known as OV-103 is the world’ most traveled spaceship, and it took a ride on top of a Boeing 747 jet plane. Before heading to the Dulles International airport, the space shuttle took a couple of spins at easy-to-spot 1,500 feet around Washington after taking off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Space Shuttle will be towed to it’s permanent location at the Smithsonian exhibit on Thursday.
Discovery, the fleet leader with 39 orbital missions and flew 149 million miles, will be the first of the three retired space shuttles to head to a museum. It will go on display at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, taking the place of the shuttle prototype Enterprise. The Enterprise will then go to New York City. Endeavour will head to Los Angeles this fall. While the Atlantis will remain at the Kennedy Space Center.
Retirement of NASA’s Shuttle fleet was ordered by the government because of high cost and maintenance. For the next three to five years or until commercial passenger craft are available in the United States, NASA astronauts will be riding in the Russian Soyuz capsule to get to the International Space Station.
The Associated Press reports that, NASA ended the shuttle program last summer after a 30-year run to focus on destinations beyond low-Earth orbit. Private U.S. companies hope to pick up the slack, beginning with space station cargo and then, hopefully, astronauts. The first commercial cargo run, by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., is set to take place in just another few weeks.