(All photos by Storm Climb)
It was an exciting and emotional moment as the Space Shuttle Discovery, the most well known and well travelled of NASA’s orbiters, crossed the Potomac River and flew down the National Mall of Washington, DC, mounted atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Storm Climb correspondent Camille M was on the scene near Dulles Airport, communicating information about Discovery’s final flight plan to our intrepid reporter in Arlington, VA.
For many spectators, this was their first glimpse of the famous shuttle which, along with NASA’s specially modified 747, forms an iconic image that has been reproduced in pictures on the walls of space enthusiasts across the world. After passing over the Capitol Building, Discovery circled the DC metro area and made several more passes before landing at Dulles Airport at 11am today.
This series of images marks the shuttle’s eastern flight path down the National Mall. In the last image, spectators gather to watch Discovery bank to the north beyond the iconic Washington Monument. The shuttle was to make one more pass before heading south east towards Maryland and finally back to Dulles – the end of an era, but a fantastic addition to the National Air and Space Museum.
Keep reading – browse these rare and historic images of Space Shuttles Discovery and Endeavour photographed nose to nose for the first time ever at Kennedy Space Center.
(Image: David Shapinski, cc-sa-3.0)
It’s an exciting time in Washington, DC as the city prepares for the arrival of the Space Shuttle Discovery, the best known and most travelled of the NASA orbiters. The space agency has announced that Discovery will fly over the DC metro area mounted atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft between 10 – 11am EDT on April 17. Check out the flyer below, and read the NASA announcement here.
(All images by NASA, public domain, via Space.com)
During their careers, NASA’s Space Shuttle orbiters lived side-by-side at the Kennedy Space Center, with Atlantis and Endeavour housed in adjoining bays and Discovery assigned to Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF-3) across the road. But in reality, the shuttles rarely crossed paths. These images – which would have been hard to imagine a year ago – show a rare nose-to-nose meeting during a “shuttle shuffle” on August 11.
When NASA’s oldest surviving orbiter Discovery returned from space for the last time on March 9, 2011, the fleet workhorse was decommissioned in OPF-3 before moving into storage in the Vehicle Assembly Building – where the space shuttles were mated with solid rocket boosters prior to flight. Meanwhile, Endeavour was undergoing decomissioning in her assigned bay OPF-1 since returning from space on June 1.
With Endeavour’s vital systems and sensitive material removed, the two Space Shuttles switched places in a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the inner workings of the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. As Endeavour was rolled out of OPF-1, Discovery was towed from the Vehicle Assembly Building, leading to a historic yet muted photo opportunity as the retired orbiters came face-to-face.
Discovery is now safely tucked away in Endeavour’s original OPF, while the latter moved into storage inside the colossal Vehicle Assembly Building. Atlantis, which became the last shuttle in space despite original plans to retire her early, touched down last month and is presumably undergoing decommissioning in OPF-2 alongside Discovery’s current storage location.
For now, we’re hoping NASA won’t pass up the opportunity to photograph all three Space Shuttle orbiters together before they go their separate ways to museums around the country. Meanwhile, Discovery’s long time home – Orbiter Processing Facility-3 – apparently lies empty.