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We Welcome Discovery to Virginia

by Casey | Posted on April 12th, 2012

All the world’s a stage and Space Shuttle Discovery is in the spotlight next week as she makes her final voyage.

Space Shuttle Discovery Flies Atop 747. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.NASA has announced Space Shuttle Discovery will fly over the Washington, DC metro area Tuesday, April 17. The fly-over is scheduled to occur between 10:00 and 11:00 am and will fly near a variety of landmarks such as the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Everyone will want to sneak a peek at this once-in-a-lifetime arrival and here’s how you can get in on the action.

 

Spot the Shuttle

Discovery will depart NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747, in the early morning of Tuesday, April 17. It is expected to fly over the Washington, D.C. area between 10:00 and 11:00 am and will then land at Washington Dulles International Airport. The exact path and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints.

  • Follow the hashtag #SpotTheShuttle on Twitter to find a Spot the Shuttle gathering or to learn of sightings. A coffee break outside for a shuttle sighting sounds like a grand idea, yes?
  • When you pull over and look up, check in to your location with Fousquare and use the #SpotTheShuttle hashtag.
  • Take a photo or video of Discovery overhead and share it online. Remember to use the hashtag #SpotTheShuttle when sharing on Twitter so everyone can see!
  • Also consider sharing your photos and videos on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Facebook page.
  • The best vantage point for seeing Discovery approach and land at at Dulles International Airport is the parking lot of the Udvar-Hazy Center. The lot will be open at 8 am and requires a $15 parking fee. Join up with other spotters and grab breakfast at the nearby McDonald’s. While the actual touchdown will not be visible, arrangements are being made to televise the touchdown on NASA TV and through additional media coverage.
  • Other locations where the shuttle fly-in should be visible:
    • Long Bridge Park – 475 Long Bridge Drive in Arlington
    • Old Town Alexandria Waterfront
    • Gravelly Point, just off the George Washington Parkway near National Airport

It will take two days to de-mate Discovery from its modified Boeing 747 chauffeur and prepare it for transport to the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Welcome Discovery Celebration

Welcome Discovery Commemorative PosterDiscovery will arrive at the Udvar-Hazy Center for a transfer ceremony on Thursday, April 19. The ceremony will include the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Discovery crew members, and a nose-to-nose meeting of the Space Shuttles Discovery and Enterprise.

Special guest speakers will include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough, National Air and Space Museum Director Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, and Former Senator and Astronaut John Glenn.

From noon until 4:30 pm there are a plethora of events. See the schedule.

At 4 pm the shuttles will be moved. Enterprise will be moved into position beside the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. Having been on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center since it opened in 2003, Enterprise will find a new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York, arriving at JFK Airport on April 23. Discovery will then be moved into the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar for permanent display.

The Welcome Discovery Celebration is free; parking is $15.

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