Space shuttle Discovery made its final landing today at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Completing its 39th and final flight, the Discovery now retires as Nasa's oldest and most flown space shuttle. It was a bittersweet touchdown as everyone witnessed this history in the making.
The Discovery is still in top shape and its retirement is due to the closing down of NASA's shuttle program in order to financially support new programs to send astronauts beyond Earth's orbit. NASA is under presidential direction to make this decision and to shut down the shuttle program by this summer.
The Endeavor and Atlantis space shuttles will be completing their voyages within the coming months. However, over the 30 year program, Discovery still holds the record with 39 missions, 148 million miles, 5,830 orbits of Earth and 365 days spent in space. It will take several months of work to dismantle engine parts and drain fuel before the Discovery will be ready for its final resting place at the Smithsonian Institution.
"To the ship that has led the way time and time again, we say, 'Farewell Discovery,'" radioed the Mission Control commentator.
[via USA Today]