VIDEO FEB 24 2011: NASA’s most traveled space shuttle took off on its final voyage after nearly three decades of service. Discovery’s journey to the International Space Station marks the beginning of the end of the shuttle era. Only two more missions are left.
Space Shuttle Discovery (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-103) is one of the three currently operational orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet of NASA, the space agency of the United States. (The other two shuttle names are Atlantis and Endeavour.)
Foam fell off of the Shuttle’s exterior after the process of liftoff. Possibly showing debris at 28 seconds in video above.
When first flown in 1984, Discovery became the third operational orbiter, and is now the oldest orbiter in service. Discovery has performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions.
Discovery has flown 38 flights, completed 5,247 orbits, and has spent 322 days in orbit. Discovery is the orbiter fleet leader, having flown more flights than any other orbiter 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 1986, STS-114 in 2005, and STS-121 in 2006.
List of flights of Space Shuttle Discovery
STS-41-D: First flight
STS-51-D: Carried first incumbent United States member of Congress into space, Senator Jake Garn (R–Utah)
STS-26: Return to space after Challenger disaster (STS-51-L)
STS-31: Launch of Hubble Space Telescope
STS-60: First Russian launched in an American spacecraft (Sergei Krikalev)
STS-95: Second flight of John Glenn, oldest man in space and third incumbent member of Congress to enter space
STS-92: The 100th Space Shuttle mission
STS-114: Return to space after Columbia disaster (STS-107)
STS-116: First night time launch of a shuttle since the Columbia disaster. Last Shuttle launch from LC-39B
STS-131: Longest mission for this orbiter
STS-133 Discovery is presently flying the second to last space shuttle mission STS-133, having launched today, Feb. 24, 2011