Space Shuttle Discovery: One More Time

Blast off!
Get ready to witness the majesty and the power of Discovery as she lifts off one final time," Commander Steve Lindsey said just before launch, as he thanked NASA workers for the work they had done to get the shuttle ready.

Large crowds gathered in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to watch Discovery blast off from Kennedy Space Center toward the International Space Station. After this 11-day mission ends, the aging shuttle will never leave Earth again.

It will become the first shuttle to be retired and will get turned into a museum exhibit. Although NASA has not yet announced which museum will get the prize, the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., has expressed interest in displaying this historic spaceship, which made its maiden flight back in 1984.

"Discovery is the champion of the shuttle fleet," says Valerie Neal of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. "Everything that the space shuttle was intended to do, Discovery, and only Discovery, has done."
Photo: Pierre Ducharme/Reuters