Dramatic last flight for Discovery space shuttle

Piggybacking aboard a Boeing 747, the space shuttle Discovery made a dramatic flyover of Washington Tuesday before touching down near its final resting place, a museum outside the US capital.

Riding atop a modified plane kept by NASA specifically for transporting space shuttles, Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, just after sunrise for its last journey in the skies.

Then the shuttle, which first flew in 1984, circled over the US capital for about an hour before landing at Dulles International Airport as crowds whistled and cheered, and some onlookers fought back tears.

Tourists wearing shorts on a sunny spring day gathered along the National Mall near the Washington Monument, staring skyward to catch a glimpse of the storied white and black shuttle, which appeared scuffed and grubby from its 39 journeys into space.

Office workers clustered at windows or climbed onto rooftops to see the aircraft and shuttle as they soared low over the US capital's historic landmarks.

Outside the Pentagon, a throng of military officers and civilian employees watched the shuttle fly a final time, reveling and applauding as it made two low passes over the building, escorted by a T-38 fighter jet.

Traffic slowed on some of Washington's major roadways as drivers pulled over to gape at the skies, according to some shuttle spotters who reported what they were seeing on the microblogging site Twitter.

"It's like sending someone from your family to go live somewhere else," said NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, a mission specialist on Discovery's final flight, STS-133.

"Discovery's leaving home and starting a new life."

A ceremony to mark the official induction of the Discovery will be held on Thursday at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, outside the US capital in suburban Chantilly, Virginia.

Discovery flew its last mission to space in February and March of last year, on a 13-day trip to the International Space Station.

It is the oldest and most traveled craft in the US collection of three space-flying shuttles -- also including Endeavour and Atlantis -- and one prototype, the Enterprise, which never flew in space.

Two other shuttles were destroyed in flight. Challenger disintegrated shortly after liftoff in 1986 and Columbia broke apart on re-entry to Earth in 2003. Both disasters killed everyone on board.

Discovery spent a total of 365 days in space, and flew nearly 149 million miles (241 million kilometers), NASA's mission control said.

Discovery was the first of the three shuttles to retire last year. Endeavour began its final trip to space in April and the 30-year US program ended after Atlantis returned to Earth for the last time in July 2011.

Russia is now the only nation capable of sending astronauts to space aboard its Soyuz capsules.

Private US companies are competing to be the first to fill the gap left by the shuttles' retirement, with SpaceX set to attempt its first unmanned cargo mission to the ISS on April 30.

A flyover by the shuttle Enterprise is set for April 23 over New York City, NASA said.

The Enterprise, which had been a centerpiece attraction at the Udvar-Hazy Center, part of the Smithsonian museums, until Discovery was assigned to take its place, will pass by the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks, NASA said.

Enterprise is to go on display at New York's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

  • No apology, but Noy seeks understanding
    No apology, but Noy seeks understanding

    There was no apology, but President Aquino yesterday expressed regret, took “full responsibility” and appealed to the nation for “deepest understanding” for the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid in which dozens died, including 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. “To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation, it is with abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” Aquino said in a speech before the 246 new graduates of …

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP
    Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP

    President Aquino vowed yesterday to dismantle the culture of factionalism or the bata-bata system within the Philippine National Police as he continued the search for the next PNP chief. Speaking at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) commencement exercises here, the President said the country needed solidarity among leaders and members of the police force so that the policemen would be effective protectors of Filipinos. “Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as well as warm climate and people are just some of the things that make the Philippines a top …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options