Discovery space shuttle docks in US museum | News | DW | 20.04.2012
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Discovery space shuttle docks in US museum

NASA has formally transferred its space shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near Washington's Dulles Airport. After 39 forays into space, it's now a spectacle.

The space shuttle Discovery was installed at its new permanent home on Thursday, taking center stage at the biggest aviation museum in the US.

Discovery is the oldest surviving NASA shuttle, having flown 39 missions since 1984. It is also of NASA's three retired shuttles to enter its permanent home.

The shuttle completed its last mission into space in March 2011, with the subsequent return of Atlantis in July that year marking the end of the US manned spaceflight program.

At a ceremony at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the outskirts of the capital Washington, 15 of Discovery's 31 living commanders walked alongside the shuttle as it was towed to its resting place.

It will stand nose-to-nose with the older Enterprise shuttle, long since decommissioned and deposited at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy annex near Dulles International Airport.

"It is a happy day but it is also a very sad day," said Fred Gregory, who commanded Discovery in 1989. "Discovery pretty much represents the rest of the fleet that we have all been a part of for a really long time."

The two other shuttles retired last year, Atlantis and Endeavour, are still at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Endeavour is ultimately due to be housed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Atlantis will be exhibited at the Kennedy Space Center's visitor complex.

msh/sms (AFP, AP, dpa)