Discovery’s takeoff from KSC, as viewed from the midpoint on the east side of the runway. Video Credit: Matthew Travis / ARESinstitute.org
Presented here are several clips of space shuttle Discovery’s final departure from Kennedy Space Center this past Tuesday, along with videos of Discovery readying for the ferry flight. The orbiter took to the skies atop a modified NASA 747 shuttle carrier aircraft right on time at 7am EDT, heading south over Brevard County and giving residents one last opportunity to say goodbye to the spacecraft they watched launch for nearly 30 years. The fleet leading space shuttle then turned north and made one last pass over Kennedy Space Center before departing the area for Washington D.C., touching down at Dulles International Airport a few hours later.
The most flown reusable spacecraft in history, Discovery successfully carried out 39 missions during a career spanning 27 years, spending a total of one year in orbit and having travelled 148 million miles through space at a speed 12 times faster than a bullet fired from an assault rifle.
Discovery flies over the Kennedy Space Center and makes one final pass of the runway before departing Florida for Dulles International Airport. Video Credit: Matthew Travis / ARESinstitute.org
“This is the place where people have really taken care of Discovery for its entire life,” said NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, a mission specialist on Discovery’s final flight, STS-133. Before joining the ranks of the astronaut corps, Stott worked in a variety of shuttle-processing roles at Kennedy.
“It’s like sending someone from your family to go live somewhere else,” Stott said. “Discovery’s leaving home and starting a new life somewhere else.”
Discovery’s takeoff and fly-by over the shuttle landing facility, viewed from the southeast end of the runway facing sunrise. Video Credit: Mike Killian for Americaspace and ARESinstitue.org
Discovery arrived at Dulles International Airport shortly after 11am EDT Tuesday morning. The spacecraft will take its place as the centerpiece of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, replacing shuttle Enterprise, which has been on display since 2003. Enterprise never flew in space, but performed test flights through the atmosphere which proved vital in designing the ability for the space-worthy shuttles to re-enter the atmosphere and glide safely back to Earth. Enterprise will be placed atop the same 747 which ferried Discovery to the Smithsonian in the coming days, and will be flown to JFK International Airport early next week to go on display at its new home – the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
NASA’s modifed 747 shuttle carrier aircraft, or SCA, pulls up to park underneath shuttle Discovery to begin the mate operation to attach the orbiter to the aircraft for their upcoming ferry flight to Washington D.C. Video Credit: Matthew Travis / ARESinstitute.org
Discovery and the shuttle carrier aircraft, now attached and nearly ready for their flight, back out of the mate/demate device and give KSC workers, media, and a lucky few members of the public a chance to take photos and say goodbye up close and personal to the orbiter. Video Credit: Matthew Travis / ARESinstitute.org