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andyKane
andyKane • Mar 13, 2011

Farewell To Discovery On Its Final TouchDown

America’s most traveled space shuttle, Discovery, had its final touchdown on Wednesday, 9th March 2011 when it landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was on its final 13-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

In its remarkable career of 27 years, the Discovery spent 365 days in the space with a flight of almost 149 million miles (241 million kilometers) which is the longest by any spaceship in the world till now. It was first launched way back in 1984.

[​IMG]Discovery’s last mission flight to the ISS was carrying 6 astronauts. They worked on some repairs and installed an additional room (21 by 15 feet) in the ISS for storage and experiments. They also brought the first humanoid robot to the International Space Centre. The crew also performed two spacewalks for maintenance on the exterior of the platform.

Discovery was the first shuttle that was launched by NASA as the return to flight orbiter after two major disasters in the history. After the Challenger shuttle explosion in 1986, NASA didn’t launch any shuttle until Discovery’s 1988 launch. Also after the Columbia disaster in 2003 when the shuttle broke while returning to earth, first shuttle launched was Discovery.

The first woman to “command” the space shuttle was Eileen Collins who commanded discovery in 2005 after the Columbia disaster. Discovery transferred the Hubble Space Telescope and also visited the Russian Mir space station. It has also launched the Ulysses probe and three TDRS satellites.

Discovery is now set to go to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum where it will surely delight a lot of crowd. Meanwhile, NASA’s two more reusable space shuttles are about to retire in the coming months. The shuttle Endeavour has already been taken to the launch pad for its final flight at Kennedy Space centre, its scheduled launch date being 19th of April. It will be commanded by astronaut Mark Kelly whose lawmaker wife Gabrielle Giffords was in the headlines after surviving a shot in the head by a gunman on deadly rampage.

NASA’s another space shuttle, Atlantis, is scheduled for its final flight on June 28. That will bring an end to the American shuttle program. After that, the plan is that the US astronauts will be transported to the International Space Center (at least till the 2015) by the Russian Soyuz rockets that carry three people at a time.

So to the spaceship which led the American Space program from time to time and was the most trusted one, let’s say “Farewell Discovery”!

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