Shuttle Discovery powered off for the last time
Shuttle will go on display at the Smithsonian Museum next spring.
The space shuttle Discovery has been turned off, for the last time. The vehicle was unplugged inside the Orbiter Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Shuttle Discovery being removed from a specially modified 747 after ferrying from California in this NASA file photo.
Discovery's three electricity generating fuel cells have been drained of all their chemicals, and their feed lines have been purged. The fuel cells will never work again. Additionally, the control panels and heads-up display will also remain off.
Discovery has already undergone substantial overhaul to make it ready for the Smithsonian Museum. The engines have been removed and replaced with replicas, and its thrusters have been cleaned of hazardous fuel. The orbiter's toilet was removed, cleaned and sanitized, and reinstalled. The toilet is being kept, along with many other components of the shuttle because the Smithsonian Institution has asked that as much of the vehicle as possible be preserved.
Shuttle Discovery's career spanned three decades during which the orbiter launched the Hubble Space Telescope, and a variety of other important satellites. The shuttle also delivered modules for the International Space Station as well as essential supplies and fresh crews.
The shuttle Discovery still has one more flight to go before its final retirement. As soon as preparations are complete, the shuttle will be mounted on the back of a specially modified 747 jumbo jet which will then carry the piggybacked spacecraft to Dulles Airport in Virginia. There, the shuttle will be installed at a hangar and put on display for visitors to see.
Occupying Shuttle Discovery's future location is the prototype shuttle Enterprise. The Enterprise was a test prototype for the spacecraft, and was flown extensively through the 1970s to test the design. It never flew in space -- and was never intended for space flight. The Enterprise will be relocated to New York City where it will be exhibited at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the shuttle Endeavor will go on display in Los Angeles, but that exhibit won't open for at least another two years.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: shuttle discovery, NASA, Smithsonian, museum
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