Photo by Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images.
Discovery made its final voyage on Tuesday—but this time the shuttle with 39 successful space flights to its name stayed a bit a bit closer to its earthly home.
The retired orbiter traveled from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex in Virginia courtesy of a piggy-back ride from a Boeing 747.
The shuttle, which served as the fleet leader of NASA's three remaining shuttles, flew its first mission in 1984 and its last this past March, a space that included a number of trips to the International Space Station and the successful launch of the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.
NASA retired its space shuttles last year after finishing construction on the $100 billion International Space Station. The next project? A new fleet of spaceships that can carry astronauts to destinations past the station's 240-mile-high orbit.
"It's sad to see this happening," one member of Discovery's final crew told Reuters. "But you look at it and you just can't help but be impressed by it. That's my hope now, that every time someone looks at that vehicle they are impressed, that they feel that this is what we can do when we challenge ourselves."
On its way to its new Smithsonian home, the plane carrying Discovery looped around the National Mall in D.C. to cheers on the ground, before touching down at Washington Dulles International Airport around 11 a.m. local time.
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