NOSE TO NOSE – Attendees at ceremonies that officially transferred Discovery to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., April 19 had the rare opportunity to see two retired space shuttles together – the prototype Enterprise on the left and Discovery on the right. (NASA / Kevin Rohrer) › View Larger Image
NASA transferred space shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum at formal ceremonies April 19 at the museum's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
Thousands of visitors thronged the center during the festivities, which featured both Discovery and the prototype shuttle it will replace in the center's exhibit, Enterprise, parked facing each other behind the dais.
A group of Boy Scouts gets up-close-and-personal with the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle module that was used in the Pad Abort-1 flight test at White Sands Missile Range in May 2010. The module was featured in the NASA exhibit at the transfer ceremonies for space shuttle Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center on April 19, 2012. (NASA / Kevin Rohrer) › View Larger Image Featured speakers at the event, including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and former Ohio Senator John Glenn, both former NASA astronauts, and museum director Gen. John "Jack" Dailey, extolled the accomplishments of Discovery and the shuttle fleet while pointing forward to NASA's next major effort in advance space exploration.
"Today, while we look back at Discovery's amazing legacy, I also want to look forward to what she and the shuttle fleet helped to make possible," said Bolden. "As NASA transfers the shuttle orbiters to museums across the country, we are embarked on an exciting new space exploration journey. Relying on American ingenuity and know-how, NASA is partnering with private industry to provide crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station, while developing the most powerful rocket ever built to take the nation farther than ever before into the solar system."
"Discovery has distinguished itself as the champion of America's shuttle fleet," added Dailey. "In its new home, it will shine as an American icon, educating and inspiring people of all ages for generations to come. The museum is committed to teaching and inspiring youngsters, so that they will climb the ladder of academic success and choose professions that will help America be competitive and successful in the world of tomorrow."
Both Bolden and Glenn had flown on Discovery during its 39 space flights over a 27-year span.
Enterprise, which never flew in space but validated the shuttle's flightworthiness during the Approach and Landing Tests at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base in 1977 and helped prove out other shuttle systems, is scheduled to be ferried from Dulles Airport adjacent to the museum to Kennedy International Airport in New York on Monday, April 23. After a brief period in storage at Kennedy, it will be barged to its new home, the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum in New York Harbor this summer.
The other two remaining space shuttles, Atlantis and Endeavour, are being prepared for transit to their final display locations, Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center's visitor center and Endeavour at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.