While it may appear Discovery
is retiring, NASA this morning made it clear Discovery
still has more work to do and her next mission involves educating and inspiring the next generation of engineers and astronauts.
A crowd gathered early this morning at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to welcome Discovery
and witness the transfer ceremony as NASA charged Smithsonian with the care of Discovery
made its final flight on Tuesday
into Northern Virginia, arriving at Dulles International Airport.
The museum's doors opened early at 8 a.m. (regular opening is 10 a.m.) and before 8 a.m. parking lots were rapidly filling with cars. Approaching the museum's doors before 8 a.m., a crowd of people could be seen forming in front of the museum awaiting entry.
At 9 a.m. visitors were allowed entry into the ceremony area and this filled up quickly as everyone eagerly awaited Discovery's arrival to come nose-to-nose with Enterprise
will be leaving the Udvar-Hazy Center and is scheduled to begin its journey to The Intrepid Museum in New York City on Monday.
crew members were present for the ceremony and the astronauts arrived on stage just prior to Discovery's
final leg of its last journey.
The Marine Drum and Bugle Corps band played as Discovery
was positioned next to Enterprise, forming the backdrop for the transfer ceremony. Once the two spacecraft were nose-to-nose, next came the Presentation of Colors, and the National Anthem was sung by mezzo soprano Denyce Graves.
Opening remarks commenced, and the many notable speakers scheduled were present including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough, National Air and Space Museum Director Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey, former Senator and Astronaut John Glenn, and Chair of Smithsonian Board of Regents France Cordova.
As each one spoke, a bit of history was both shared and made simultaneously.
"This is one of the greatest gatherings of astronauts probably in the history of NASA", Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey said. "The things that they have to do to become an astronaut are incredible."
Spectators witnessed the signing of documents that solidified the transfer of Discovery
from NASA to the Smithsonian. Several of the astronauts stopped and spoke with people as they made their way off the stage area.
Afterward, visitors to the museum were invited to spend the day and enjoy the many events and also take photos of this historical meeting of the two space shuttles.
The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum will be celebrating Discovery's
arrival all weekend
with several events scheduled.