Shuttle Discovery Will Touch Down at Smithsonian

By Tim Persinko
|  Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011  |  Updated 2:33 PM EDT
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Space Shuttle Discovery Ready to Launch

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After great baseball players retire, they are inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

When great aircraft retires, it gets sent to the Air and Space Museum.

The collection that includes the Wright brother's airplane, Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis," and some of the first space capsules to orbit the moon will be getting another heavyweight in aerospace history - the shuttle Discovery.

“An acquisition of this importance happens rarely in the life of a museum,” says Air and Space curator Dr. Valerie Neal to the Smithsonian's blog. “It is an honor and privilege to welcome Discovery into the national collection, where it will be displayed, preserved, and cared for forever.”

The shuttle Discovery touched down safely at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 9, ending its 39-mission career.  Highlights of the shuttle's service included the deployment of the Hubble telescope, 2 flights to the Russian space station Mir, 13 flights to the International Space Station, and the first shuttle flight under an African-American commander.  In all, the spacecraft spent 365 days in outer space.

The museum expects that it will be several months before NASA delivers the shuttle to their collection.  Once it does arrive, the shuttle is not planned to be housed at the main museum in downtown D.C.  If you want to see the orbiter, you'll have to visit the museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

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