Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Discovery eyes April 17 departure from KSC

Shuttle fleet leader Discovery is expected to depart Kennedy Space Center on April 17 for a non-stop ferry flight to Dulles International Airport, NASA and the Smithsonian Institution confirmed today.

KSC technicians recently fitted a tail cone over replica main engines installed on the retired orbiter, the last major processing milestone in preparation for the flight.

A ceremony is planned April 19 to tow Discovery into the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., where it will swap places with orbiter prototype Enterprise.

Enterprise then will take Discovery's place atop a 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for a targeted April 23 or April 24 ferry flight to New York City, where it will be displayed at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

All the travel dates are dependent on weather and remaining processing work being completed as planned.

Details about Discovery's route to Washington and any potential fly-overs are not complete.

The orbiters Endeavour and Atlantis could move later this year to their respective display sites in California and on the Space Coast.

IMAGE: Inside Orbiter Processing Facility-1 at Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 12, technicians helped secure the tail cone around space shuttle Discovery’s three replica shuttle main engines for protection. The work is part of the Space Shuttle Program’s transition and retirement processing of shuttle Discovery. Discovery is being prepared for display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

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