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Orbiter Discovery receives “Bumper to Bumper” Washington Welcome

Discovery touches down at Dulles International Airport after a rousing Washington D. C. flyover. Photo Credit/NASA TV

NASA’s shuttle orbiter Discovery reached her new home port on Tuesday, the nation’s capital, following a four hour ferry flight atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft that featured a fly over of the Washington D. C. area and a post-departure fly over of the Kennedy Space Center in Central Florida.

Discovery, which launched into space on 39 missions between 1984 and 2011, has been undergoing preparations at Kennedy for public display since her flnal flight, a 12-day assembly mission to the International Space Station in February and March of last year.

Discovery will be housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a wing of the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles in Chantilley, Va.

The transfer ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, April 19, at 11 a.m., EST.

Discovery departs the Kennedy Space Center with the Vehicle Assembly Building in the foreground. Photo Credit/NASA photo

As the SCA with Discovery reached Washington, the pilots flew over the White House and the National Mall,  drawing large crowds outside their office buildings to see the shuttle.

“Reports are the whole city has stopped to watch,” noted one Washington Twitter user.

NASA’s SCA pilots used almost all the fuel they had to show off Discovery’s  Washington arrival under a partly sunny sky. The SCA with Discovery touchdown at 11:05 a.m, EDT.

“It’s bumper to bumper out there,” said one eager Washington spectator. “People are pulled over everywhere.”

Discovery will take the place of Enterprise, NASA’s test orbiter, at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

“Farewell Discovery,” tweeted one Florida spectator as the SCA tool to the skies. “Thanks for all the launches.”

Like Discovery, Enterprise will be ferried to New York City atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft next week. The test orbiter will go on display at New York’s  Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.


Discovery circles over Cape Canaveral, Fla., beaches before turning north for Washington D. C. Photo Credit/Twitter

Orbiters Endeavour and Atlantis are undergoing preparations for public display at Kennedy as well.

Endeavour’s final destination is the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Atantis will remain in Florida, where it will go on display at the Kennedy Visitor Center Complex.






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