Space Shuttle Discovery to be displayed at National Air & Space Museum
The Space Shuttle Discovery will make its final home at the Smithsonian, Nasa announced Tuesday.
The spacecraft, which was retired after a final mission in February and March, will be put on display at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly.
“People from across the nation and around the world will continue to learn about these amazing vehicles,” said Charles Bolden, Nasa administrator.
Two other retired spacecrafts will go to Cape Canaveral and Los Angeles. More than twenty locations put in bids for the shuttles, including Seattle and Houston, where some members of Congress even lobbied for selection. Paul Ceruzzi of the National Air and Space Museum said the museum had hoped to get an orbiter, but had to wait for Tuesday’s announcement to find out they were indeed chosen.
Rich shuttle history
Discovery flew 39 missions - more than any of its sister ships - and spent 365 total days in space. The shuttle flew its first flight in 1984 and is the longest serving space shuttle orbiter. It was in service for 27 years.
Ceruzzi thinks this “tremendous history with the space station” and its other missions makes the shuttle a wonderful artifact.
All told, Discovery made 13 trips to the International Space Station, three Hubble Telescope flights, nine flights with science labs, four Department of Defense flights, eight satellite delivery flights and two missions to the Russian space station Mir.
Some hope the retired shuttle near our nation's capital will motivate lawmakers to support future space exploration. “They'll see that Nasa just doesn't exist, it requires a source of funding,” said Benjamin Jimenez, a U of Md. grad student.
The timeline for the arrival of Discovery in the Washington region is still up in the air. It could be months or even years away as officials figure out final logistics for the locations of each of those three shuttles.
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