April 19, 2012
This afternoon, retired space shuttle Discovery was officially transferred to the National Air and Space Museum. The orbiter went on a spectacular fly-by of Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to land at Dulles International, where it was de-mated from the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Then early this morning, Enterprise — the orbiter sent on test drops to prove the shuttle could glide back from space — left its home inside the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar, where it had been on display since 2004.
Smithsonian and NASA officials led a ceremony (pictures below) to say goodbye to Enterprise (it will leave for New York City’s Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum next week) and hello to Discovery, which rolled into view of thousands of spectators, stopping nose-to-nose with Enterprise. An impressive gathering of former Discovery astronaut commanders, along with Senator (and former Discovery payload specialist) John Glenn, were there for the event, and guests received a live video call from the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Discovery will be rolled into the McDonnell hangar around 5 p.m. If you’re in the D.C. area and want to see the shuttles today, the National Air and Space Museum is open late, until 6:30 p.m. (tonight only). Parking after 4 p.m. is free.
Photos by Heather Goss