The shuttle Discovery, the longest-serving orbiter in history, landed at Dulles airport on Tuesday, April 17 at 11:05 a.m. EDT.
The shuttle made its final flight on the back of a modified 747 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Virginia’s Dulles International Airport today. At 9:48 a.m. EDT it flew over the airport at about 300 feet and then went around Washington, D.C., for about an hour and 15 minutes.
Discovery landed at 11:05 a.m. April 17, on runway 1R. The plane then taxied to a stop in an area called Apron W, which has been set up as a construction site to work on the 83-ton shuttle and de-mate it from the 747. The pilot, Jeff Moultrie, and co-pilot, Bill Rieke, will be greeted by officials from NASA and the Smithsonian and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The shuttle will remain at the airport to be prepared for its final journey Thursday morning when it is towed to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.
The official transfer of the shuttle from NASA to the Smithsonian will take place at the Udvar-Hazy Center at 11 a.m. Thursday with 15 of Discovery’s 32 commanders on the stage. The keynote address will be given by former Senator and astronaut John Glenn, who, at age 77, was the oldest member of a Discovery crew. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Discovery will be the backdrop of the ceremony, and it will remain outdoors until 5:30 p.m. when it is scheduled to be towed into its new permanent home, the James S. McDonnell Space Hanger of the Udvar-Hazy Center.