back to article Discovery glides into history

Space shuttle Discovery ended its 39-mission career this afternoon at 16:57 GMT, when it landed at Kennedy Space Center. Discovery touches down at Kennedy Space Center this afternoon. Pic: NASA The shuttle's swansong was a 13-day trip to the International Space Station to deliver spares and the Permanent Multipurpose Module. …


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  1. Floridally

    Just heard it!

    Just heard (about 20 minutes ago) the sonic booms as it passed over my office in Sarasota, Florida. Still too high to see, unfortunately.

  2. hugo tyson


    Can we paraphrase:

    I always dreamed I'd see the first flight of a reusable space vehicle*; I never dreamed I would see the last...

    Yeah, I know, hope Atlantis and Endeavour also have safe final flights.

    *I remember Columbia's safe return very well, live on TV.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Sonic boom

    The BOOMBOOM was pretty heavy in Orlando... shook the whole house.

    I'm very sad. I've watched the Shuttles go from brand-new bleeding-edge technology to museum pieces. Going to be a rough rest of the day.

  4. K. Adams


    Not much more to say, really. As opined by Admiral Kirk (TWOK), anything else would be "just words"... </teary-eyed-sniffle>

  5. F111F


    Hoisting one to a grand ship...

  6. mark 173


    So how are the guys in the space station going to get back down again?

    1. Andy Taylor


      The Russians will provide the only access to the ISS using Soyuz craft, even older tech than the Shuttles

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Getting down

      There are two more Shuttle launches, after that everyone will be going up and back down again on Soyuz modules.

      1. mark 173

        getting down

        So instead of a controled return to earth in a machine specifically built for it, they'll be jettisoned in a small pod with a parachute! I know which I'd prefer lol

  7. Beachrider

    Time to retire Discovery...

    I was in 8th grade when the shuttle program was assigned to LA-area building companies after it was designed by NYC-area engineering companies. There were NIH problems in that the LA-folks really never 'owned' the design of the ship. The space shuttle design did not evolve over time, so the 1968-dreams became well-past-obsolete in 2011.

    I will miss the Shuttles, but they really needed evolution to stay-fresh and remain viable like other aircraft and high-tech assets.

    Back to the olde space capsules! We can only hope that privatization will bring new-ideas to this field.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An era ends..... the space effort staggers on, hog tied by incompetent bureaucrats and health and safety nuts.

    Hopefully, the new generation of private operators will revitalise the industry, assuming they don't get strangled by self-interested corporations and dinosaur government agencies.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      To AC

      "hog tied by ... and health and safety nuts."

      It's because of "health and safety nuts" that you got off the last flight you took, and also the reason that any shuttles are still flying, rather than all of them being in pieces.

      "...don't get strangled by self-interested corporations and dinosaur government agencies."

      However I'm with you 100% on this.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I waved goodbye...

    As it crossed these parts on Monday night.

    The sight of both the ISS & the Shuttle, flying together was quite an experience when you see them with your own eyes traversing the sky at 17000 mph.

    Heli for its clandestine replacement.

  10. thomas newton
    Paris Hilton

    @AC - as for the 'health and safety nuts'

    if they really had hogtied it, then perhaps the Challenger and Columbia would still be flying now, without any loss of crews. I recall a commentator some time ago remarking that the three X-15's made almost two hundred flights between them, but were never regarded as more than experimental and quite dangerous aerospacecraft to operate - however with the Shuttle, a far more complicated and higher-performing piece of equipment, they made four test flights and declared it fully operational.

    That;'s even before you get to the design compromises forced upon NASA in the 70s when they were having the thing approved by the US administration, making it the 'DC-1 1/2' of space rather than the DC-3 it was meant to be. And what are NASA replacing it with? essentially, the same concept as Apollo - disposable one-shot craft.

    paris, because you have to wonder if there's any point to her at all as well.

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