Space Shuttle Discovery has launched into its next era. The retired shuttle landed safely at Washington-Dulles International Airport Tuesday, where it will remain until it is moved to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center Thursday. Eyes around the world watched as the retired spacecraft, riding atop a 747, flew low over the Capitol and surrounding areas.
According to NASA, Discovery completed 39 missions – more than any other spacecraft – and circled the earth more than 5800 times since its first launch on August 30, 1984.
To celebrate Discovery’s arrival, Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is planning a festival of activities. Its Welcome Discovery program began when the orbiter arrived in the D.C. Additional activities at the Center will kick off Thursday when Discovery will be officially transferred by NASA into the Smithsonian’s collection in an outdoor ceremony that will be open to the public.
The Welcome Discovery festival is presented in cooperation with NASA. All activities are offered free of charge but there is a $15 parking fee at the Udvar-Hazy Center.