Click for larger image
Click for panorama
Click for panorama
Click for larger image
Click for full-size image
Click for STS-133 mission page
Click for full-size image
Click for full-size image
Click for panorama Click for panorama
Click for panorama
Click for panorama
Click for panorama
Click for the STS-133 mission page
Click for STS-133 mission page
Click for STS-133 mission page

About Discovery Space Shuttle Discovery (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-103) is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States, and was operational from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011. Discovery has flown more than any other spacecraft having completed 39 successful missions in over 27 years of service. In 1984, Discovery became the third operational orbiter following Columbia and Challenger, and made its final touchdown at Kennedy Space Center on March 9, 2011 at 10:57:17 CST, having spent a cumulative total of one full year (365 days) in space. Discovery has performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions. Discovery also flew the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired, followed by Endeavour and Atlantis. History The spacecraft takes its name from four British ships of exploration named Discovery, primarily HMS Discovery, one of the ships commanded by Captain James Cook during his third and final major voyage from 1776 to 1779. Others include: Henry Hudson's Discovery, which he used in 1610–1611 to search for a Northwest Passage. This ship had previously been used in the 1607 founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in what was to become the United States HMS Discovery, one of the ships which took Captain George Nares' British Arctic Expedition of 1875–1876 to the North Pole RRS Discovery, a Royal Geographical Society research vessel which, under the command of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, was the main ship of the 1901–1904 "Discovery Expedition" to Antarctica which is still preserved as a museum in Dundee, Scotland. Discovery was the shuttle that launched the Hubble Space Telescope. The second and third Hubble service missions were also conducted by Discovery. It has also launched the Ulysses probe and three TDRS satellites. Discovery had been twice chosen as the "Return To Flight" Orbiter, first in 1988 after the 1986 Challenger disaster, and then for the twin "Return To Flight" missions in July 2005 and July 2006 after the 2003 Columbia disaster. Discovery also carried Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 at the time, back into space during STS-95 on October 29, 1998, making him the oldest person to go into space. Had the planned STS-62-A mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1986 for the United States Department of Defense gone ahead, Discovery would have flown it. Its final mission, STS-133, landed on March 9, 2011, in Kennedy Space Center, Florida. After decommissioning and delivery, the spacecraft is displayed in Virginia at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. Construction milestones Date Milestone 1979 January 29 Contract Award to Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California 1979 August 27 Start long lead fabrication of Crew Module 1980 June 20 Start fabrication lower fuselage 1980 November 10 Start structural assembly of aft-fuselage 1980 December 8 Start initial system installation aft fuselage 1981 March 2 Start fabrication/assembly of payload bay doors 1981 October 26 Start initial system installation, crew module, Downey 1982 January 4 Start initial system installation upper forward fuselage 1982 March 16 Midfuselage on dock, Palmdale, California 1982 March 30 Elevons on dock, Palmdale 1982 April 30 Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman 1982 April 30 Lower forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale 1982 July 16 Upper forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale 1982 August 5 Vertical stabilizer on dock, Palmdale 1982 September 3 Start of Final Assembly 1982 October 15 Body flap on dock, Palmdale 1983 January 11 Aft fuselage on dock, Palmdale 1983 February 25 Complete final assembly and closeout installation, Palmdale 1983 February 28 Start initial subsystems test, power-on, Palmdale 1983 May 13 Complete initial subsystems testing 1983 July 26 Complete subsystems testing 1983 August 12 Completed Final Acceptance 1983 October 16 Rollout from Palmdale 1983 November 5 Overland transport from Palmdale to Edwards Air Force Base 1983 November 9 Delivery to Kennedy Space Center 1984 June 2 Flight Readiness Firing 1984 August 30 First Flight (STS-41-D) Upgrades and features Discovery weighed some 6,870 pounds (3,120 kg) less than Columbia when it was brought into service due to optimizations determined during the construction and testing of Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger. Beginning in late 1995, the orbiter underwent a nine-month Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP) in Palmdale California. This included outfitting the vehicle with a 5th set of cryogenic tanks and an external airlock to support missions to the International Space Station. It can be attached to the top of specialized aircraft and did so in June 1996 when it returned to the Kennedy Space Center, and later in April 2012 when sent to the Udvar-Hazy Center, riding piggy-back on a modified Boeing 747. After STS-105, Discovery became the first of the orbiter fleet to undergo Orbiter Major Modification (OMM) period at the Kennedy Space Center. Work began in September 2002 to prepare the vehicle for Return to Flight. This included scheduled upgrades and additional safety modifications. Discovery is 6 pounds (2.7 kg) heavier than Atlantis and 363 pounds (165 kg) heavier than Endeavour. Decommissioning and display Discovery was decommissioned on March 9, 2011. NASA offered Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum for public display and preservation, after a month-long decontamination process, as part of the national collection. Discovery replaced Enterprise in the Smithsonian's display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Discovery was transported to Dulles International Airport on April 17, 2012, and was transferred to the Udvar-Hazy on April 19 where a formal welcome ceremony was held. Flights By its last mission, Discovery had flown 149 million miles (238 million km) in 39 missions, completed 5,830 orbits, and spent 365 days in orbit in over 27 years. Discovery is the Orbiter Fleet leader, having flown more flights than any other Orbiter Shuttle in the fleet, including four in 1985 alone. Discovery flew all three "return to flight" missions after the Challenger and Columbia disasters: STS-26 in 1988, STS-114 in 2005, and STS-121 in 2006. Discovery flew the third to the last mission of the Space Shuttle program, STS-133, having launched on (NET) February 24, 2011. Endeavour flew STS-134 and Atlantis performed STS-135, NASA's last Space Shuttle mission. On February 24, 2011, Space Shuttle Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39-A to begin its final orbital flight. Flight # Date Designation Notes 1 08/30/84 STS-41-D First Discovery mission: Judith Resnik became second American woman in Space. Two communications satellites were put into orbit, including LEASAT F2. 6 days, 00 hours, 56 minutes, 04 seconds 2 11/08/84 STS-51-A Launched two and rescued two communications satellites including LEASAT F1. 7 days, 23 hours, 44 minutes, 56 seconds 3 01/24/85 STS-51-C Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite. 3 days, 01 hours, 33 minutes, 23 seconds 4 04/12/85 STS-51-D Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F3. 6 days, 23 hours, 55 minutes, 23 seconds 5 06/17/85 STS-51-G Launched two communications satellites, Sultan Salman al-Saud becomes first Saudi Arabian in space. 7 days, 01 hours, 38 minutes, 52 seconds 6 08/27/85 STS-51-I Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F4. Recovered, repaired, and redeployed LEASAT F3. 7 days, 02 hours, 17 minutes, 42 seconds 7 09/29/88 STS-26 Return to flight after Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, launched TDRS. 4 days, 01 hours, 00 minutes, 11 seconds 8 03/13/89 STS-29 Launched TDRS. 4 days, 23 hours, 38 minutes, 52 seconds 9 11/22/89 STS-33 Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite. 5 days, 00 hours, 06 minutes, 49 seconds 10 04/24/90 STS-31 Launch of Hubble Space Telescope (HST). 5 days, 01 hours, 16 minutes, 06 seconds 11 10/06/90 STS-41 Launch of Ulysses. 4 days, 02 hours, 10 minutes, 04 seconds 12 04/28/91 STS-39 Launched DOD Air Force Program-675 (AFP-675) satellite. 8 days, 07 hours, 22 minutes, 23 seconds 13 09/12/91 STS-48 Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS). 5 days, 08 hours, 27 minutes, 38 seconds 14 01/22/92 STS-42 International Microgravity Laboratory-1 (IML-1). 8 days, 01 hours, 14 minutes, 44 seconds 15 12/02/92 STS-53 Department of Defense payload. 7 days, 07 hours, 19 minutes, 47 seconds 16 04/08/93 STS-56 Atmospheric Laboratory (ATLAS-2). 9 days, 06 hours, 08 minutes, 24 seconds 17 09/12/93 STS-51 Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS). 9 days, 20 hours, 11 minutes, 11 seconds 18 02/03/94 STS-60 First Shuttle-Mir mission; Wake Shield Facility (WSF). 8 days, 07 hours, 09 minutes, 22 seconds 19 09/09/94 STS-64 LIDAR In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE). 10 days, 22 hours, 49 minutes, 57 seconds 20 02/03/95 STS-63 Rendezvous with Mir space station. 8 days, 06 hours, 29 minutes, 36 seconds 21 07/13/95 STS-70 7th Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). 8 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes, 05 seconds 22 02/11/97 STS-82 Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (HSM-2). 9 days, 23 hours, 38 minutes, 09 seconds 23 08/07/97 STS-85 Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes (CRISTA). 11 days, 20 hours, 28 minutes, 07 seconds 24 06/02/98 STS-91 Final Shuttle/Mir Docking Mission. 9 days, 19 hours, 55 minutes, 01 seconds 25 10/29/98 STS-95 SPACEHAB, second flight of John Glenn, Pedro Duque becomes first Spaniard in space. 8 days, 21 hours, 44 minutes, 56 seconds 26 05/27/99 STS-96 Resupply mission for the International Space Station. 9 days, 19 hours, 13 minutes, 57 seconds 27 12/19/99 STS-103 Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (HSM-3A). 7 days, 23 hours, 11 minutes, 34 seconds 28 10/11/00 STS-92 International Space Station Assembly Flight (carried and assembled the Z1 truss); 100th Shuttle mission. 12 days, 21 hours, 43 minutes, 47 seconds 29 03/08/01 STS-102 International Space Station crew rotation flight (Expedition 1 and Expedition 2) 12 days, 19 hours, 51 minutes, 57 seconds 30 08/10/01 STS-105 International Space Station crew and supplies delivery (Expedition 2 and Expedition 3) 11 days 21 hours, 13 minutes, 52 seconds 31 07/26/05 STS-114 Return To Flight mission since Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; International Space Station (ISS) supplies delivery, new safety procedures testing and evaluation, Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello. 13 days, 21 hours, 33 minutes, 00 seconds 32 07/04/06 STS-121 Second "Return To Flight" mission since the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; International Space Station (ISS) supplies delivery, test new safety and repair techniques. 12 days, 18 hours, 37 minutes, 54 seconds 33 12/09/06 STS-116 ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the P5 truss segment); Last flight to launch on pad 39-B; First night launch since Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. 12 days, 20 hours, 44 minutes, 16 seconds 34 10/23/07 STS-120 ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the Harmony module). 15 days, 02 hours, 23 minutes, 55 seconds 35 05/31/08 STS-124 ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the Kibo JEM PM module). 13 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes, 07 seconds 36 03/15/09 STS-119 International Space Station crew rotation and assembly of a fourth starboard truss segment (ITS S6) and a fourth set of solar arrays and batteries. Also replaced a failed unit for a system that converts urine to drinking water. 12 days, 19 hours, 29 minutes, 33 seconds 37 08/28/09 STS-128 International Space Station crew rotation and ISS resupply using the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Also carried the C.O.L.B.E.R.T treadmill named after Stephen Colbert 13 days 20 hours, 54 minutes, 40 seconds 38 04/05/10 STS-131 ISS resupply using the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. The mission also marked the 1st time that 4 women were in space & the 1st time that 2 Japanese astronauts were together in space station 15 days 2 hours, 47 minutes 11 seconds 39 02/24/11 STS-133 The mission launched at 4:53 pm EST on February 24, was carrying the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo, the ELC-4 and Robonaut 2 to the ISS. This was the final mission for the Space Shuttle Discovery. 12 days 19 hours, 4 minutes, 50 seconds Notable missions STS-41-D: Space Shuttle Discovery's maiden spaceflight with the second American woman in space, Judith Resnik STS-51-D: Carried first incumbent United States member of Congress into space, Senator Jake Garn (R–Utah) STS-26: First "Return to Flight" after Challenger disaster (STS-51-L) STS-31: Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope STS-48: Launch of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite STS-60: First Russian launched in an American spacecraft (Sergei Krikalev) STS-63: First female shuttle pilot Eileen Collins. STS-95: Second flight of John Glenn, who was 77 at that time, the oldest man in space and third incumbent member of Congress to enter space STS-96: First Orbiter Shuttle and first mission flight to dock with the International Space Station STS-92: The 100th Space Shuttle mission STS-114: Second "Return to Flight" missions after Columbia disaster (STS-107) STS-116: First night time launch of a Space Shuttle since the Columbia disaster. Last Shuttle launch from LC-39B STS-131: Longest mission for this Orbiter with 15 days to its credit STS-133: Final mission for this Space Shuttle