On Feb. 1, 2003, seven astronauts died when the U.S. space shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. Columbia disappeared from radar screens while it was over Texas, 16 minutes before it was due to land at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Several white trails of smoke were seen coming from shuttle.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour began its final journey at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to its permanent home, in the early morning hours October 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Over the next two days, the 170,000-pound (77,272 kg) shuttle will travel at no more than 2 mph (3.2 km per hour) along a 12-mile (19km) route from LAX to it’s final home at the California Science Center. NASA’s Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011 after 30 years and 135 missions.
The space shuttle Endeavour, mounted on the back of a 747, flew over several of California landmarks on it way to retirement at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
UPDATE: Today at 9:56 a.m. eastern time, the SpaceX Dragon capsule was grabbed by a robotic arm from the International Space Station about 250 miles above northwest Australia. The Dragon is carrying 1,200 pounds of cargo for the Space Station crew including food, clothing and science experiments, one of which originated from Maryland’s own Paul Warren, an 11th-grader at Henry E. Lackey High School in Indian Head.
Led by CEO, and PayPal founder, Elon Musk, SpaceX is now the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. With its successful launch on Tuesday and subsequent docking later today, the Falcon 9/Dragon capsule has ushered in a new era in space travel now that NASA has retired its fleet of space shuttles.
This week Discovery* took its last flight, piggybacking a modified 747 from Kennedy Space Center to Washington D.C., where it will replace Enterprise as part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
NASA’s space shuttle Discovery took its maiden flight on August 30, 1984, when it carried three communications satellites for deployment. It has since completed a record-breaking 39 missions, spent 365 days in space and orbited the Earth 5,830 times. Early notable missions have included the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Ulysses spacecraft to explore the sun’s polar regions in 1990 and launching the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite in 1991. Discovery’s last launch took place on February 24, 2011.
For many, outer space continues to be awe-inspiring, and so to commemorate the retirement of the Discovery, here is a look at the historic shuttle over the years.