Space Shuttle Discovery hitches a ride into history (photos)

There were cheers and tears among the estimated 2,000 guests, NASA employees, former astronauts and media who gathered early this morning to watch Discovery leave home one last time to be enshrined at the Smithsonian for future generations to marvel at.


The nose gear rises just before Discovery and her ride go airborne
The pilot does a low-level fly over the assembled crowd

click to enlarge Shuttle Discovery atop a NASA 747 just before takeoff this morning at Kennedy Space Center - www.starznbarz.com
www.starznbarz.com
Shuttle Discovery atop a NASA 747 just before takeoff this morning at Kennedy Space Center

click to enlarge Shuttle Discovery atop a NASA 747 just before takeoff this morning at Kennedy Space Center - www.starznbarz.com
www.starznbarz.com
Shuttle Discovery atop a NASA 747 just before takeoff this morning at Kennedy Space Center
  • www.starznbarz.com
  • Shuttle Discovery atop a NASA 747 just before takeoff this morning at Kennedy Space Center

The Space Shuttle Discovery's ride into history began just after sunrise this morning at the old shuttle landing facility at Kennedy Space Center. The celebrated workhorse of the space shuttle fleet made its last flight into the early morning Florida skies on top of a specially designed NASA 747 jumbo jet.

Shuttle Discovery entered service in 1983 and was launched on its first mission on Aug. 30,1984. It has several distinctions over the other shuttles: It was the first shuttle to fly after the loss of both Challenger and Columbia, and it was the shuttle that carried Senator John Glenn to the space station as the oldest American astronaut, at 77 years old, in October of 1998.

Discovery is the most flown shuttle, with 39 flights. Among other milestones, it carried and deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. Discovery last flew in space in March, 2011.

More pics after the jump.

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