John Glenn to welcome Shuttle Discovery; Smithsonian receives out of this world donations

Former US Senator John Glenn will speak during the "Welcome Discovery" festival. Glenn is a veteran astronaut flying on Mercury 7 and on Shuttle Discovery for STS-95. He holds the record for oldest person in space. Former US Senator John Glenn will speak during the "Welcome Discovery" festival. Glenn is a veteran astronaut flying on Mercury 7 and on Shuttle Discovery for STS-95. He holds the record for oldest person in space.

Washington, D.C., APRIL 5, 2012 — With just under two weeks until Space Shuttle Discovery is set to land for permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, the museum has seen a pair of new donations, set to enhance their shuttle display collection at both the national mall and Dulles airport locations.

SEE: Shuttle Discovery goes to Washington

Photo by: NASA

On March 29th, NASA along with Disney Pixar donated a Buzz Lightyear 12-inch action figure which flew twice on Shuttle Discovery. Launched on May 31st, 2008 aboard STS-124 and arriving back to earth on STS-128 some fifteen months later, the Toy Story movie action figure now holds the record for longest serving toy in space.

On April 4th, two IMAX camera that flew aboard the space shuttle from 1984 to 1998 were donated to the museum. The 70mm large-format cameras, which were operated by astronauts in orbit, captured stunning views of Earth from space and offered an up-close look at what it is like to live and work in a weightless environment. The in-cabin display will display at the museum’s national mall location, with the payload-bay camera on display alongside Shuttle Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Dulles Airport location.

Photo by: NASA

Then, somewhat unexpectedly, news of another monumental donation surfaced when Billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of, announced he had located the original Apollo 11 F-1 rocket engines 14,000 feet below surface on the floor of the Atlantic. His team, Bezos Expeditions are mounting an effort to recover as many of the engines many as possible, with the first on-display location likely to be the Smithsonian. With the Smithsonian’s national mall location already displaying the Apollo 11 capsule and a mock-up of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) used to physically land on the moon, an engine would would provide the beginning of the story that launched a nation to the moon.

Shuttle Discovery Festivities

Along with the four-day festivities surrounding the welcoming of Shuttle Discovery, former US Senator, Mercury 7 and Shuttle Discovery astronaut John Glenn will participate in the formal celebration as a featured speaker. Senator Glenn, who became the oldest person in space, will be joined by other astronauts, distinguished members of NASA and former shuttle program workers.

Shuttle Discovery will be inducted into the Smithsonian April 19th after a two day demate process at the Dulles International Airport. During the event, the public can expect a true celebration, including performances by the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, proto opportunities with both Space Shuttles Discovery and Enterprise, meeting with former Discovery crew members and the official moving, swapping Enterprise and Discovery.

Full Smithsonian Discovery Festival Activities

Smithsonian Indoor & Outdoor Activities.

Space Shuttle Enterprise is set to depart a few days later, bound for New York City and The Intrepid Sea, Air & Museum.

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Todd Stowell

Todd Stowell is a freelance writer, photographer, and the User Experience Developer for The Washington Times and Communities at Washington Times. He is also the web developer for the Space Tweep Society, an online property bringing together members of NASA’s Tweetup events to an open forum to share space related topics and stories.

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