Space Shuttle Discovery Makes History: Docks in Station for the Last Time

By on Feb 28, 2011 in Astronomy, Events, Science, United States, World Comments

Space Shuttle Discovery
Image credit: aerospaceguide.net

Space Shuttle Discovery made history as it docked last Saturday, February 26, 2011 at the International Space Station one last time. This will be its terminal mission before it finally retires. It started its 39th and final flight last Thursday afternoon where thousands of people watched its launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery arrived in a spectacular fashion as shuttle commander Steve Lindsey did a back flip maneuver. The 360- degree movement was done so that the cameras can capture any signs of launch damage. The arrival marks another history in the space station program since aircraft from Europe, Japan, Russia and the US are all docked at the same time.

Upon arrival, Space Shuttle Discovery astronauts worked hand in hand with the crew of International Space Station. Two space walks are scheduled on Monday and a photo op on Tuesday. Aside from the space crews, the Discovery also carries the first human-like robot that will become a permanent resident of the space station.

After its 30-year shuttle program, NASA announced the ending of its mission. Together with the Space Shuttle Discovery, other two ships, Endeavor and Atlantis, are also retiring this summer and spring respectively. Unlike with the common connotation that vehicles that retire are old and dilapidated, Space Shuttle Discovery is at the top of her game”, according to astronaut Michael Barratt. United States has to end the program because of the high operating cost and in order for it to start the development of new spaceships that can travel to the moon and to other destinations.

Space Shuttle Discovery is the first to perform somersaulting maneuver, traveled 143 million miles and over 39 flights.

 



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