Goodbye to the Space Shuttle Discovery

The space shuttle Discovery prepares for flight at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Feb. 23. Discovery launches with a crew of six astronauts on February 24 on a mission to the International Space Station – The Final Flight.

Space shuttle Discovery lit up the sky at sunset as it roared off Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on its mission to the International Space Station. The STS-119 mission was the 28th to the space station and Discovery's 36th flight. Discovery delivered the final pair of power-generating solar array wings and the S6 truss segment.

STS-26 Discovery, Orbiter Vehicle 103, mated with the external tank and solid rocket boosters, rolls out of Kennedy Space Center's vehicle assembly building. This high angle view looks almost directly down of OV-103, ET, and SRBs nose cones and the mobile launch pad. .

Backdrop by a blue and white Earth and the blackness of space, the Space Shuttle Discovery's docking mechanism (top foreground), payload bay, Remote Manipulator System Orbiter Boom Sensor System, vertical stabilizer, and orbital maneuvering system pods appear in this photo taken by a STS-119 crewmember during the 12th day of flight in March 2009.

NASA... Where do we go from here?


Amber Skyze said...

The flights always amaze me.

Laurie A. Green said...

Your last question is a good one, Kaye. What now? We've lost the moon, and now our shuttle fleet is close to retirement. There's so much we have to learn and discover in space--we've made enormous strides forward in everything from medicine to science--I wonder how well we'll fair in the coming decades having to depend on other nations to get us into space.

BTW, the photos you included in your article are spectacular. I especially like the first one.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Kaye,
It is a shame. But we don't want to send anything up there that will malfunction. It's a good idea really.
I also agree that there is so much waiting to explore, but has mankind got it to reach further and further, to find out what makes the universe really tick. Or to find other civilizations that are definitely there.
We are only a speck in some huge array of creation.

I am always amazed at the unknown.

It's frustrating really. I want to know more. :)

I agree with Laurie...but surely mankind will be visited soon. Surely.. for all the world to see. :)

Kaye Manro said...

Amber, I so agree with you. And if you haven't seen a take off in person, it is amazing.

Laurie, as SFRers I think we always see the beyond when it comes to space exploration, don't you think?

Suzanne, Yes it is interesting to think what the future will hold and how we will go about getting there, or ET getting to us!

Linda Banche said...

Strange, that as our technology gets better and better, we seem to have lost our desire to explore space. Sad.

Kaye Manro said...

Hi Linda -- it does seem that way doesn't it? Yet in the future, the private sector may be our hope. Even now Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Intergalactic) is poised and ready to take ordinary people to space-- for a price! I'm sure other businesses will follow too.

So our space exploration and programs may not rely entirely on NASA. Let's not forget, however, we are also poised for more exploration of Mars and other deep space projects by NASA.

Laurie A. Green said...

Kaye, I've got a breif (under 3 minute) video interview with Richard Branson posted on my web site focused on how his commercial space flights will work, if anyone wants to take a look.

This is the direct link:

Debs Carr said...

So sad to think that after coming so far, this was the final flight.

Maria Zannini said...

It might take a new administration before we see renewed interest in the space program. I don't want to see it die.

The private sector has taken some of the mantel but I don't know if it's enough. It's likely at least the private sector might make it more lucrative than the government did.

Shelley Munro said...

I'm still in awe of space flight. It will be interesting to see how the commercial flights go.

Kaye Manro said...

Laurie, thanks for the Branson link! It is good to have this and to see what is actually happening.

Debs, I know it is very sad to see the direction the space program is taking now.

Maria, I agree with you. At this point it is kind of a wait and see situation.

Shelley, I am also in awe of space flight. And I agree I can't wait to see where the public sector takes this.

Kat said...

It is sad to see the end of an era. But I always enjoy watching the launches.

Carol Preflatish said...

I love your post, Kaye. I'm such a fan and supporter of the space program.

Kaye Manro said...

Kat-- The launches are stellar to see. Here's to the future of our exploration of space.

Carol-- so good to see you here! Thanks. I too love and support anything and everything to do with space programs.

Kaily Hart said...

I went on a trip with my son last year to the Kennedy Space Center. We did the 'lunch with an astronaut'. I thought it would be cheesy and touristy, but it was fascinating. I didn't realize how many of the everyday things we use came about as a result of research and development for space flight. Absolutely fascinating!

Kaye Manro said...

Kaily, that is so very cool! I bet your son had a great time! And I agree, it is absoutely amazing what we've gained just from all that research and development for space flight!