It roared into space like a lion, and landed like a lamb for the 39th time. The space shuttle Discovery has touched down to Earth for the final time in its 24-year career.
The shuttle landed at 225 mph at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:57 this morning, capping off 5,830 spins around the planet and spending a total of exactly a year in outer space, which will go into the books as a record.
Discovery is the oldest of NASA’s space shuttles and has flown a record 148 million miles to complete research and International Space Station missions.
The final mission began on Feb. 24, although it had originally been scheduled for Nov. 1. Due to poor weather and mechanical problems, it was delayed. The purpose of this mission was to supply the International Space Station with food and various other supplies and equipment.
Now that it’s entered the sunset of it’s life, Discovery will most likely end up on display at the Smithsonian, but first it will undergo several months of post-flight maintenance at NASA. A team will pull out anything that could pose a health hazard, like fuel tanks, plumbing and thermal blankets that have absorbed toxic fumes over the years. Engines will be replaced with replicas and spare parts. The announcement about its destiny will be made on April 12, which is the 30th anniversary of the shuttle fleet’s first spaceflight. The open secret is that it will wind up at Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Virginia.
The Shuttle Endeavor is scheduled to blastoff on April 19th (with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly on board). The Shuttle Atlantis is then supposed to take off on June 28th, which will mark the final journey for the shuttle program.
Source: The Huffington Post