Space Shuttle Discovery OV-103
One of my main reasons for wanting to stop at The Udvar-Hazy Center was to get a glimpse of this bad boy, Space Shuttle Discovery. Although the center had a similar display before Discovery, the Enterprise. The Enterprise was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform atmospheric test flights after being launched from a modified Boeing 747. It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield and was therefore not capable of spaceflight. The discovery is the real deal and really cool to see up close and personal! I got to the Center right before it opened, hoping to beat the crowds, but I did not, there were tons of kids lined up already, waiting to get in. When the gates opened I made my way back to the shuttle rather quickly and was able to get shots off before the mass of people, mission accomplished.
Over 27 years of service it launched and landed 39 times, gathering more spaceflights than any other spacecraft to date. The shuttle has three main components: the orbiter, a central fuel tank, and two rocket boosters. Nearly 25,000 heat resistant tiles cover the orbiter to protect it from high temperatures on re-entry. Discovery performed both research and ISS assembly missions. It also carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired. Discovery was transported to Washington Dulles International Airport on April 17, 2012, and was transferred to the Udvar-Hazy on April 19 where a welcome ceremony was held.
Thanks for Stopping!