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Shuttle Discovery last flight

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Shuttle Discovery last flight

Post by el on Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:01 pm

WASHINGTON — Space shuttle Discovery, NASA's fleet leader and the world's most flown spacecraft, lifted off for the last time on Tuesday (April 17) to be delivered to the Smithsonian for its permanent display.

Discovery took off atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747, leaving the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:58 a.m. EDT (1058 GMT), just after dawn, for Washington, D.C. The ferry flight was expected to take about three and a half hours to complete.

Discovery, flying piggyback atop the jumbo jet, departed the runway and headed south to give the public along the Florida coastline and at the space center's visitor complex a last chance to see the shuttle in flight.

NASA planned for the carrier aircraft to then do a low flyby of the same runway from where it took to the air — and Discovery last landed from space in March 2011 — before bidding farewell to the orbiter's home and launch site for the past three decades. [Photos: Discovery's Final Piggyback Flight in Pictures]

NASA said the jumbo jet with its shuttle passenger would then head up the Eastern Seaboard, generally flying up the coastline in Georgia and the Carolinas before taking a more inland route over Virginia. The exact route and timing was dependent on weather and operational constraints.

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