The space shuttle Discovery arrives at Dulles International Airport near Washington. Thousands of eyes are staring to the sky when the retired space shuttle Discovery arrives on near Washington. It will be placed at the National Air and Space Museum!!!!!
Spectators cheer shuttle Discovery’s arrival near Washington
Motorists, workers and others in and around Washington stop to watch as the retired space shuttle Discovery arrives aboard a jetliner at Dulles airport en route to its permanent museum home.
Cheers broke out from crowds gathered on the National Mall. Workers peered out windows and looked up from sidewalks. Motorists pulled to the side of the road to catch a glimpse of the spectacle:
The space shuttle Discovery piggybacking on a modified 747, flying low over the monuments of the nation’s capital before landing at Dulles International Airport on the way to its permanent new home with the Smithsonian, at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
“Folks were pretty excited. It was a pretty special moment and a great show,” said Adrienne Watson, an aide to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) who was among the congressional staffers gathered at the U.S. Capitol to watch the historic flyover. The plane flew at about 1,500 feet but made low passes at Dulles and Reagan airports and Joint Base Andrews in its last air show.
The Discovery is the first of the retired shuttles to be delivered to its final destination after a fierce competition for the four orbiters. Others are headed to the California Science Center in Los Angeles; the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York; and the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Jeffrey Solsby, a staffer for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) who watched the flyover from the window of his Capitol Hill office, said his wife, Michelle, took their daughters, 6 and 4, out of school to see “something I’m sure our girls will remember for a long time.”
“It made me nostalgic for the shuttle-induced sonic booms over Southern California that I heard growing up,” added Solsby, referring to shuttle landings at Edwards Air Force Base.
In Arlington County, Va., where teachers took students outside for the flyover, Barrett Elementary School Principal Theresa Bratt said in an email, “The children told me that they wanted to reach up and touch it because it seemed so close.”
But for Texas congressmen, the flyover was a bitter reminder that Houston, home of Mission Control, was passed over as a destination for a retired orbiter.
“One of these vehicles belongs at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, not on the Intrepid in NY,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) wrote on his Facebook page. “Shame on the White House for playing politics with a national treasure.”
In selecting permanent homes for the retired shuttles, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said he wanted to place them in areas where the most people would see them. The NASA inspector general has said that no evidence could be found that political pressures influenced Bolden’s decisions.
The flyover was such a big event, even in a city accustomed to historic moments, that AAA Mid-Atlantic issued warnings to motorists: “Don’t let anyone or anything — even a space shuttle overhead — distract you” and “For safe shuttle-spotting, pull off the road and park your car.”
A similar flyover is planned for the New York City area next week and Los Angeles perhaps this fall for their shuttle deliveries.
The Enterprise, a test shuttle currently on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center, will be flown atop a plane to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and moved by barge to the Intrepid museum in Manhattan.
The Endeavour is due to be flown from Kennedy Space Center to Los Angeles International Airport in September or October and transported through city streets to the California Science Center in Exposition Park. The Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex.
A splashy ceremony Thursday to welcome the Discovery to the Udvar-Hazy Center will feature Discovery crew members, including space pioneer John Glenn, who returned to space in 1998 aboard the spacecraft at age 77. (Richard Simon – Los Angeles Times)