Space Shuttle Discovery

Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery launches from NASA Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A on mission STS-124.
OV designation OV-103
Country United States
Contract award January 29, 1979
Named after Discovery (1602),
HMS Discovery (1774),
HMS Discovery (1874),
RRS Discovery (1901)
Status Retired[1]
First flight STS-41-D
August 30, 1984 (1984-08-30) – September 5, 1984
Last flight STS-133
February 24, 2011 – March 9, 2011
Number of missions 39
Crews 252[2]
Time spent in space 365 days, 22 hours, 39 minutes, 29 seconds
Distance travelled 148,221,675 mi (238,539,663 km)[3]
Satellites deployed 31 (including Hubble Space Telescope)
Mir dockings 1[3]
ISS dockings 13[3]

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,[4] 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. Prior to its retirement, Discovery was NASA's Orbiter Fleet leader, having flown 39 successful missions in over 27 years of service. In 1984, Discovery became the third operational orbiter following Columbia and Challenger,[5] and made its final touchdown at Kennedy Space Center on March 9, 2011 at 10:57:17 CST,[6] 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, and was the only orbiter to take other parts of the telescope to space. Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired, followed by Endeavour and Atlantis.



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

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 has been chosen twice 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.[8]

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 will be displayed in Virginia at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.[1][9][10][11][12][13][14]

Construction milestones

Date Milestone[15]
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 rocketing into space, just after booster separation.

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.[8]

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, riding piggy-back on a modified Boeing 747.[8]

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.[8] Discovery is 6 pounds (2.7 kg) heavier than Atlantis and 363 pounds (165 kg) heavier than Endeavour.[2]


Discovery was decommissioned on March 9, 2011.[16][17]

NASA has offered Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum for public display and preservation, after a months-long decontamination process,[18] as part of the national collection after the orbiter has been retired.[19][20][21] Discovery will replace Enterprise in the Smithsonian's display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.[22][23][24][9][10][11]


Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) deployed

By its last mission, Discovery had flown 148 million miles (238 million km) in 39 missions, completed 5,830 orbits, and spent 365 days in orbit in over 27 years.[1] 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 aboard 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.[25]

Notable missions:

Flights listing

# Date Designation Notes Length of journey
1 01984-08-30August 30, 1984 STS-41-D First Discovery mission: Launched two communications satellites, including LEASAT F2. 6 days, 00 hours,
56 minutes, 04 seconds
2 01984-11-08November 8, 1984 STS-51-A Launched two and rescued two communications satellites including LEASAT F1. 7 days, 23 hours,
44 minutes, 56 seconds
3 01985-01-24January 24, 1985 STS-51-C Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite. 3 days, 01 hours,
33 minutes, 23 seconds-
4 01985-04-12April 12, 1985 STS-51-D Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F3. 6 days, 23 hours,
55 minutes, 23 seconds
5 01985-06-17June 17, 1985 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 01985-08-27August 27, 1985 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 01988-09-29September 29, 1988 STS-26 Return to flight after Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, launched TDRS. 4 days, 01 hours,
00 minutes, 11 seconds
8 01989-03-13March 13, 1989 STS-29 Launched TDRS. 4 days, 23 hours,
38 minutes, 52 seconds
9 01989-11-22November 22, 1989 STS-33 Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite. 5 days, 00 hours,
06 minutes, 49 seconds
10 01990-04-24April 24, 1990 STS-31 Launch of Hubble Space Telescope (HST). 5 days, 01 hours,
16 minutes, 06 seconds
11 01990-10-06October 6, 1990 STS-41 Launch of Ulysses. 4 days, 02 hours,
10 minutes, 04 seconds
12 01991-04-28April 28, 1991 STS-39 Launched DOD Air Force Program-675 (AFP-675) satellite. 8 days, 07 hours,
22 minutes, 23 seconds
13 01991-09-12September 12, 1991 STS-48 Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS). 5 days, 08 hours,
27 minutes, 38 seconds
14 01992-01-22January 22, 1992 STS-42 International Microgravity Laboratory-1 (IML-1). 8 days, 01 hours,
14 minutes, 44 seconds
15 01992-12-02December 2, 1992 STS-53 Department of Defense payload. 7 days, 07 hours,
19 minutes, 47 seconds
16 01993-04-08April 8, 1993 STS-56 Atmospheric Laboratory (ATLAS-2). 9 days, 06 hours,
08 minutes, 24 seconds
17 01993-09-12September 12, 1993 STS-51 Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS). 9 days, 20 hours,
11 minutes, 11 seconds
18 01994-02-03February 3, 1994 STS-60 First Shuttle-Mir mission; Wake Shield Facility (WSF). 8 days, 07 hours,
09 minutes, 22 seconds
19 01994-09-09September 9, 1994 STS-64 LIDAR In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE). 10 days, 22 hours,
49 minutes, 57 seconds
20 01995-02-03February 3, 1995 STS-63 Rendezvous with Mir space station. 8 days, 06 hours,
29 minutes, 36 seconds
21 01995-07-13July 13, 1995 STS-70 7th Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). 8 days, 22 hours,
20 minutes, 05 seconds
22 01997-02-11February 11, 1997 STS-82 Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (HSM-2). 9 days, 23 hours,
38 minutes, 09 seconds
23 01997-08-07August 7, 1997 STS-85 Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes (CRISTA). 11 days, 20 hours,
28 minutes, 07 seconds
24 01998-06-02June 2, 1998 STS-91 Final Shuttle/Mir Docking Mission. 9 days, 19 hours,
55 minutes, 01 seconds
25 01998-10-29October 29, 1998 STS-95 SPACEHAB, second flight of John Glenn, Pedro Duque becomes first Spaniard in space. 8 days, 21 hours,
44 minutes, 56 seconds
26 01999-05-27May 27, 1999 STS-96 Resupply mission for the International Space Station. 9 days, 19 hours,
13 minutes, 57 seconds
27 01999-12-19December 19, 1999 STS-103 Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (HSM-3A). 7 days, 23 hours,
11 minutes, 34 seconds
28 02000-10-11October 11, 2000 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 02001-03-08March 8, 2001 STS-102 International Space Station crew rotation flight (Expedition 1 and Expedition 2) 12 days, 19 hours,
51 minutes, 57 seconds
30 02001-08-10August 10, 2001 STS-105 International Space Station crew and supplies delivery (Expedition 2 and Expedition 3) 11 days 21 hours,
13 minutes, 52 seconds
31 02005-07-26July 26, 2005 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 02006-07-04July 4, 2006 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 02006-12-09December 9, 2006 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 02007-10-23October 23, 2007 STS-120 ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the Harmony module). 15 days, 02 hours,
23 minutes, 55 seconds
35 02008-05-31May 31, 2008 STS-124 ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the Kibō JEM PM module). 13 days, 18 hours,
13 minutes, 07 seconds
36 02009-03-15March 15, 2009 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 02009-08-28August 28, 2009 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 02010-04-05April 5, 2010 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[26] 15 days 2 hours, 47 minutes 11 seconds‡
39 02011-02-24February 24, 2011 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.[27] This was the final mission for the Space Shuttle Discovery. 12 days 19 hours,
4 minutes, 50 seconds

‡ Longest shuttle mission for Discovery
– shortest shuttle mission for Discovery


STS-41-D launch August 30, 1984.jpg
07042007 SpaceShuttle Discovery.jpg
Space Shuttle Discovery under a full moon, 03-11-09.jpg
Discovery sits atop a Boeing 747 as it touched down.jpg
Space Shuttle Discovery lands for the first time, completing STS-41-D.jpg
The launch of STS-41-D, Discovery’s first mission. STS-121 launched on Independence Day, the first and the only shuttle to launch on July 4. STS-119 on the morning of March 11, 2009. Discovery sits atop a modified Boeing 747 as it touches down. Discovery lands after her first flight, STS-41-D.
Discovery mission completed q.jpg
Modified Boeing 747 carrying Discovery.jpg
Space Shuttle Discovery Landing after STS-124.jpg
Concluding the STS-133 mission, Space Shuttle Discovery touches down at the Shuttle Landing Facility.jpg
Discovery performing the Rendezvous pitch maneuver prior to docking with the International Space Station. The Space Shuttle Discovery soon after landing Modified Boeing 747 carrying Discovery. STS-124 comes to a close as Discovery lands at the Kennedy Space Center. Discovery's final touchdown on Kennedy Space Center's runway, concluding the STS-133 mission and Discovery's career as an operating Orbiter Shuttle.

Tribute and mission insignias

NASA Orbiter Tribute for Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery Tribute.jpg
Mission insignia for Discovery flights
STS 26
STS 29
STS 33
STS 31
STS 41
STS 39
STS 48
STS 42
STS 53
STS 56
STS 51
STS 60
STS 64
STS 63
STS 70
STS 82
STS 85
STS 91
STS-121 patch.png
STS 95
STS 96
STS 103
STS 92
STS 102
STS 105
STS 114
STS 121
STS-124 patch.svg
STS-119 patch.png
STS-128 patch.png
STS-131 patch.svg
STS-133 patch.png
STS 116
STS 120
STS 124
STS 119
STS 128
STS 131
STS 133

In media

Discovery was featured in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. She was used as a booster vehicle for the Autobots' spacecraft Xantium when they were exiled from Earth, but Starscream shot her down and destroyed her.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Dunn, Marcia (March 9, 2011). "Space shuttle Discovery lands, ends flying career". Associated Press , Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Space Shuttle Discovery Facts". Florida Today. April 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c NASA (October 2010). "NASAfacts Discovery (OV-103)". Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ NASA (2007). "Space Shuttle Overview: Discovery (OV-103)". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved November 6, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Discovery’s last mission flight to space begun". February 24, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Discovery’s Final Touchdown A Success". Retrieved March 9, 2011. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d "Space Shuttle Overview: Discovery (OV-103)". NASA. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Travis, Matthew (June 21, 2011). "Part 1: Discovery space shuttle up close and personal tour at KSC". The Spacearium, via YouTube. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Travis, Matthew (June 21, 2011). "Part 2: Discovery space shuttle up close and personal tour at KSC". The Spacearium, via YouTube. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Travis, Matthew (June 21, 2011). "Part 3: Discovery space shuttle up close and personal tour at KSC". The Spacearium, via YouTube. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ Travis, Matthew (March 9, 2011). "STS-133 Landing – Space Shuttle Discovery Completes Final Mission To Space". The Spacearium, via YouTube. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  13. ^ Travis, Matthew (February 24, 2011). "STS-133 space shuttle Discovery launches for the final time". The Spacearium, via YouTube. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Space Shuttle Discovery Joins the National Collection". April 12, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Discovery (OV-103)". NASA/KSC. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  16. ^ NASA (2007). "Consolidated Launch Manifest". NASA. Retrieved October 10, 2007. 
  17. ^ Bergin, Chris (2006). "NASA sets new launch date targets through to STS-124". Retrieved October 15, 2007. 
  18. ^ Chow, Denise. "Space Shuttle Discovery Lands on Earth After Final Voyage". Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  19. ^ Pearlman, Robert (2008). "NASA seeks shuttle suitors: Museums may need to cover the costs for retired orbiters". Retrieved December 17, 2008. 
  20. ^ "NASA – NASA Solicits Ideas for Displaying Retired Space Shuttles and Main Engines". Retrieved July 17, 2009. 
  21. ^ Berger, Eric (December 7, 2009). "Discovery is Smithsonian's". Counting down to who will land a retired shuttle. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  22. ^ Pearlman, Robert Z. (March 17, 2010). "NASA Primes Retired Test Shuttle Enterprise For One Last Flight". Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "NYC, L.A., Kennedy Space Center, Smithsonian to get the 4 retired space shuttles". USA Today. 
  25. ^ Travis, Matthew (February 24, 2011). "STS-133 space shuttle Discovery launches for the final time". The Spacearium, via YouTube. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Shuttle Discovery takes off on its final flight". CNN. February 24, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 

External links

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