Space Shuttle Discovery Completes Final Mission


The space shuttle Discovery touched down at Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 11:57 a.m. EST today, marking the end of a 27-year career for NASA's most-traveled spaceship, Reuters reports. On it's last trip to space, Discovery brought cargo to and helped with construction on the International Space Station.

Over the course of 39 missions, Discovery racked up 365 days in orbit and more than 148 million miles. Discovery's final trip will be to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Two more space shuttles, Endeavour and Atlantis, remain in service with scheduled final missions in April and June, respectively. Space shuttles Challenger and Columbia were lost in accidents in 1986 and 2003, taking with them a total of 14 astronauts. Since then, Discovery has been the fleet's de facto leader.

“Houston, Discovery. For the final time, wheels stop,” Commander Steven Lindsey radioed to Mission Control in Houston, after Discovery rolled to a stop.

“Great job by you and your crew,” replied astronaut Charlie Hobaugh from Mission Control. “That was an awesome mission that you all had. You were able to take Discovery up to a full 365 days of actual time on orbit. I think that you'd call that a fleet leader, and a leader of any manned vehicle for time in orbit. So, job well done,” Hobaugh said.

–Michael Webster