Space Shuttle Discovery’s retirement party

21 photos

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.

*Discovery is named for two famous sailing ships; one sailed by Henry Hudson in 1610-11 to search for a northwest passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the other by James Cook on a voyage during which he discovered the Hawaiian Islands.

More on The Baltimore Sun:

VIDEO: Shuttle zooms past Washington monuments, PICTURES: Discovery makes final flight, rides atop 747 to Smithsonian