Government IT: NASA`s Space Shuttle Discovery Through the Decades
As NASA prepares to launch the space shuttle Discovery one last time with a scheduled launch set for Feb. 24, eWEEK takes a look through the shuttle's storied past as a chapter in the space agency's history closes. Discovery was the shuttle that launched the Hubble Space Telescope and the Ulysses probe designed to study the Sun. The shuttle also carried Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 at the time, back into space during STS-95 in October 1998, making him the oldest person to venture into space. Discovery has flown 38 flights, completed 5,247 orbits and spent 322 days in orbit. The shuttle is the orbiter fleet leader, having flown more flights than any other orbiter in the fleet, including four in 1985 alone. Discovery also flew all three "return to flight missions after the Challenger and Columbia disasters. During the space shuttle's final spaceflight, known as STS-133, crew members will take important spare parts to the ISS (International Space Station) along with the Express Logistics Carrier-4, a platform designed to support external payloads mounted to the space station, and Robonaut2, the first humanoid robot in space.