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Discovery Makes its Final Flight Before Retiring

Written by on Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

It’s common to see jets flying over the funeral ceremonies of important military officials. In an event reminiscent of that tradition, the Discovery flew for the very last time, this time over the heads of Virginians and DC residents on the way to its final resting place at at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. The Discovery will replace the Enterprise shuttle at the exhibit, and will provide visitors with a glimpse of space and aviation history for decades to come.

This veteran spacecraft has been around the block (and the Earth) more than a few times. It began its service in 1984 and has since flown 39 flights. Not only was it the single oldest spacecraft in the USAF’s fleet, but it was also one of the most well-traveled. Because it was one of the first spacecraft, it was used for a wide array of missions. Nowadays, most spacecraft are built explicitly for a specific purpose and used exclusively to fulfill that role.

What makes this event so important is that it marks the end of a chapter for US space technology. The Discovery wasn’t just one of many spacecraft — it was the shuttle, the one spacecraft buy antibiotics that was originally intended to be used for all US space missions. A handful of other shuttles were built, but the Discovery continued to serve even as the Challenger and the Columbia met their tragic ends.

The Discovery shuttle is also getting a makeover as part of its retirement. NASA repaired the exterior, cleaned it, and gave it a fresh paint job. Visitors to the Discovery’s new home should be wowed by its incredible new appearance. In fact, people tend to grossly underestimate the enormous size of the Discovery because it was often viewed next to the oversized rockets that helped launch it into space.

The Discovery shuttle will be replaced by the highly top-secret X-37, which is still currently in orbit around Earth. They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and this also holds true for space shuttles. Visually, the X 37 has many features that are strikingly similar to its predecessor. It’s quite clear that much of the technology used to create the Discovery also went into making the X-37. It really isn’t possible to underestimate the contribution of the Discovery to the US space program.

If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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