Government IT: NASA`s Space Shuttle Discovery Through the Decades

 
 
By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2011-02-22
 
 
 

NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery Through the Decades

by Nathan Eddy

NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery Through the Decades

Discovery by Moonlight

First flown in 1984, Discovery became the third operational orbiter and is now the oldest orbiter in service.

Discovery by Moonlight

Discovery Aglow

A nearly full moon sets as the space shuttle Discovery sits atop Launch pad 39A in March 2009.

Discovery Aglow

Discovery Comes Home

The spacecraft takes its name from four British ships of exploration named Discovery, primarily HMS Discovery, one of the ships commanded by Captain James Cook.

Discovery Comes Home

Discovery Descending

A crane lowers Discovery toward the external tank and solid rocket boosters already stacked on the mobile launcher platform.

Discovery Descending

Lighting up Discovery

Xenon lights over Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida compete with the lightning strike seen to the left.

Lighting up Discovery

Discovery Prepared

Each engine is 14 feet long, weighs about 6,700 pounds and is 7.5 feet in diameter at the end of the nozzle.

Discovery Prepared

Discovery Revealed

A view of the space shuttle soon after the craft and the International Space Station began their post-undocking relative separation.

Discovery Revealed

Doors of Discovery

The payload bay doors are closed in preparation for the orbiter's move to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building.

Doors of Discovery

Above the Clouds

The shuttle hitches a ride on NASA's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for the flight to Kennedy Space Center in August 2005.

Above the Clouds

Discovery's Last Ride

It takes the shuttle, attached to its external fuel tank, twin solid-rocket boosters and mobile launcher platform, about six hours to complete the move atop a crawler-transporter.

Discovery's Last Ride

Rocket Fuel