Dear Discovery…

Space Shuttle Discovery on Launchpad for final launch. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Space Shuttle Discovery on Launchpad for final launch. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Dear Discovery,

You have served us well. You’ve given hope to Earthlings of all shapes and sizes, ages and interests for almost 30 years. You are the third spacecraft to join the Space Shuttle fleet, and the first to be retired. You were born on August 27, 1979 and took four years to roll off the assembly line.

You were named after two exploring ships of old. One of your namesakes carried Henry Hudson to explore the Hudson Bay in the early 1600s, searching for a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Your other namesake carried British explorer James Cook on his adventures to the South Pacific in the 1770s. On this voyage, he discovered the Hawaiian Islands.

Discovery, we thank you for taking us back to space after both our Challenger and Columbia tragedies. You were the first US spacecraft to meet up with the Russian Mir orbiting space station, and the first to be flown by a female pilot, Eileen Collins — who later became the first female commander. You returned Astronaut John Glenn to orbit as the oldest human to fly in space.

You traveled 148,221,675 miles in space for a total of 365 days off the planet. You orbited Earth 5,830 times, and gave 242 humans the ride of their lives. I’m sorry I wasn’t one of them, but I was with you in spirit as you soared through the heavens at 17,500 miles per hour.

I look forward to seeing you fly over us today as you piggyback your way to Dulles for your final retirement home at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy facility in Chantilly, Virginia. Look down. I’ll be waving wildly and snapping your photo with my iPhone.

Discovery, we love you. We’ll miss seeing you break the Earth’s gravitational boundaries. But, I know you’ll continue to break hearts (in a good way) as long lines of Earthlings come see you for the first time. Enjoy your retirement. You deserve it.

Final Godspeed to you, old girl!


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7 responses to “Dear Discovery…

  1. Good Morning, Beth. Thank you for a lovely piece on Discovery. Not quite sure why it bring tears to my eyes, but I’m sure it is a good thing. Cannot wait to visit Kennedy Space Center when their shuttle… Endeavor? is ready to accept tourists. Hope we can touch her. I simply want to rest my hand on that wonderful piece of history. Bye for now and thank you for excellence in blogging.

    • beth beck

      Atlantis will stay at the Kennedy Space Center. Endeavor will travel out to the California Science Center. Enterprise, which has never flown in space, will move from DC to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in NY. I hope you get a chance to see them all. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Foto-Live-Blog zu Discoverys letzter Reise « Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null

  3. drhaug

    touching tribute …

  4. Nice Entry. The news today reminded me of when I first saw the shuttle on a 747 in 1980 or so and wrote a blog entry about it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • beth beck

      This was only my second time to see a piggyback flight. My first was early in my career — 1986? — when I worked at the Johnson Space Center. They flew one of the orbiters over the Center. We all went out in the parking lots and cheered.

  5. Pingback: Discovery Rules Galactic Social Media Empire | Bethbeck's Blog

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