Categories: Space Shuttle

Gallery: Discovery Leaves Kennedy Space Center for the Final Time

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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.
Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

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