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Thursday, April 19, 2012

PICTURE: Space Shuttle Discovery makes final airborne salute as hitchhiker

The Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery (OV-103) made its last ever flight today to its final rest home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles Airport, Washington D.C. Attached to NASA's shuttle carrier aircraft, a modified Boeing 747-100, the combination made multiple low fly passes of the centre of Washington D.C, allowing spectators to get a final view of the historic aircraft.

Credit: Stephen Trimble/Flightglobal

According to the Flightglobal/Ascend SpaceTrak database Discovery flew 39 times, each time successfully reaching orbit - the most-used of the shuttle fleet. Since its first flight in August 1984, the shuttle has been used to deploy commercial, military and scientific satellites, servicing the Hubble Space Telescope and the construction of the International Space Station. Discovery made its final launch on STS-133 to the International Space Station on 24 February 2011, finally landing on the 9 March 2011.

Discovery replaces the atmospheric test shuttle Enterprise in the display at the Smithsonian. Enterprise itself will now be moved to a special display operated by the Intrepid aircraft carrier-based Sea, Air and Space Museum on the waterfront of New York City.

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