Gallery: Discovery Leaves Kennedy Space Center for the Final Time

by Nancy Atkinson on April 17, 2012

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Discovery leaves Kennedy Space Center for the final time, flying off into the sunrise on April 17, 2012. Credit: Mike Deep.

It’s the end of an era. For 29 years space shuttle Discovery has been leaving Kennedy Space Center on solid rocket boosters and her own engines. Now she’s left for the final time on top of a modified Boeing 747, known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, to head to her new, final home at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C. Discovery departed Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at daybreak on April 17, 2012. The duo took one last flyover flight over the beaches of Cape Canaveral. A similar flyover is planned over the nation’s capital when they arrive later today. We have images of the event from Universe Today photographer, as well as former shuttle technician Jen Scheer (@flyingjenny) — thanks to Jen for sharing her images of Discovery’s departure. See more below from Mike and Jen (you can also visit Jen’s Flickr page). The video below was taken by Andy Scheer, another shuttle technician.


Discovery is the first of the three remaining space shuttles to head to a museum. The shuttle prototype, Enterprise that is currently at the Air & Space museum will go to New York City’s Intrepid Museum. Endeavour will go to Los Angeles this fall, while Atlantis will remain at KSC.

Orbiter Discovery is carried on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft up and down the beaches of Brevard County as a farewell on her way to Washington D.C. and her new home at the National Air & Space Museum. Credit: Jen Scheer.

Discovery atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft heads down the runway at KSC. Credit: Mike Deep.

Orbiter Discovery is carried on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft up and down the beaches of Brevard County as a farewell on her way to Washington D.C. and her new home at the National Air & Space Museum. Credit: Jen Scheer.

Takeoff for Discovery. Credit: Mike Deep.


Banking gently, Orbiter Discovery is carried on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft up and down the beaches of Brevard County as a farewell on her way to Washington D.C. and her new home at the National Air & Space Museum. Credit: Jen Scheer.

A T-38 aircraft escorts Discovery atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Credit: Jen Scheer.

This video was taken on the beach in Cape Canaveral:

Discovery leaving Florida for the final time. Credit: Mike Deep.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Paul Dupuie II April 17, 2012 at 1:06 PM

I want to thanks to all of the space shuttles whom gave us wonderful memories and bad memories to the people of all ages around the world. Thank you so much! And no thank to the President who canceled funds to NASA programs.

TerryG April 17, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Les fonds sont contrôlés par le Congrès Américain

Anyways, great pics.

Deejay Nunti April 17, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Pilar Ugarte April 17, 2012 at 2:24 PM

This is heart breaking! It is like caging a bird. This is a cosmic eagle and should be out there in space doing what it was designed to do: greatnesssssssssssss!

Shootist April 17, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Good by. Good riddance. I hope you make a better museum piece than you did a heavy lift/space truck.

bez_mozgov April 18, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Send it to DisneyLand like russians did w/ their copy of shuttle!

bez_mozgov April 18, 2012 at 9:40 PM

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