CHANTILLY, Va., April 18, 2012 - Space Shuttle Discovery, flown atop a NASA 747, has rolled its final approach. Landing at the Dulles International Airport the event marks the final time the orbiter will fly.
On Thursday, April 19th, Discovery will be officially welcomed into the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center just behind the Dulles Airport. Discovery will replace Shuttle prototype Enterprise, which will move to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City on April 23rd, 2012.
The orbiter flew over the greater Washington, D.C. area including two missed approach fly-overs of the vehicle’s new home, followed by a landing on runway 1R at Dulles International Airport. The croud of thousands at the center joined crowds throughout the district to see the shuttle up close, which flew at 1,500 feet on a welcome tour of the nation’s capital.
Shuttle Discovery, the most distinguished and oldest vehicle in the shuttle fleet completed over 1 year in space over 39 missions. First launching on August 30th, 1984, the vehicle launched the Hubble Telescope, served as the return to flight vehicle after the Challenger and Columbia disasters and brought the oldest astronaut to space, Mercury program Freedom 7 and Former Senator John Glenn.
The Smithsonian has a planned festival during the induction, which will include a 7:00 am roll out of Shuttle Enterprise. During the formal ownership transfer ceremony, 14 of Discovery’s 31 living commanders. In addition, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough, National Air & Space Museum Director J.R. “Jack” Dailey, Former Senator John Glenn and Chair of Smithsonian Board of Regents France Cordova will speak.
The remainder of the day will be for the public as they are treated with photo opportunities with both Enterprise and Discovery. Discovery will enter the museum’s James S. McDonnell Space Hanger for permanent display around 5:30pm, kicking off a week-long celebration for the museum’s newest acquitition.
The district will observe one final flight of Enterprise, as the shuttle prototype lifts off for a 9:30 arrival and fly over of New York City before touch down and storage at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
For more information on the Smithsonian’s festivities, visit: discovery.si.edu.
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