Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Amazing Discovery

CREDIT: collectSPACE/Ben Cooper
There she goes. Today, the space shuttle Discovery mounted NASA's Shuttle Carrier 747 aircraft and flew from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which was its home for three decades to its new home, the National Air and Space Museum's Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

It was only 2 months ago that we went to this museum and saw the Enterprise, the prototype orbiter, which never flew to space. The Enterprise will relocate to New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. A must-see for Trekkies in NY since this shuttle was named by the franchise's fans.

Enterprise at Udvar-Hazy; Amazing photo if I may say so (taken by me)
Saying goodbye is never easy.  But thanks to the prime location of my office, and the double decker aircart flying at only 1,500 feet, I managed to do just that while the shuttle was in mid-flight. Since I knew that a lot of my friends will surely post wonderful pictures taken with their DSLRs, I didn't even bother with my little blackberry camera. I just appreciated the precious seconds of history unfolding before my eyes.  I realize that, since the Shuttle Era has come to a close with the last trip of Atlantis from space, this is the closest to shuttle flying as I will get to see in my time. And, oh what a beautiful sight it was. 

And sure enough, my friend Arnaud did not disappoint.  Here are some awesome pictures he took. The yet unscrubbed shuttle piggybacked on its carrier is a sight to behold as it circled the district's monuments. In the second photo, you'll even see its escort plane. I'm glad it got the VIP treatment it deserved.  And special thanks to the 747's captain for circling a few times to ensure that as many mere mortals as possible see this extremely rare air show.

Discovery Photos courtesy of my friend A. Carpentier
I am itching to go back to the bigger Air and Space museum to see Discovery. This is the very same wonder that launched the Hubble Space Telescope, after all. Mileage logged: 149 million. After it gets its necessary scrub  down (I think), it will take its place at center stage along side the other great retired aircrafts that made history.  Until my visit and yours, why don't we enjoy photos of its future companions?

Space capsule, aircrafts and misile at Udvar-Hazy center; Photos by me

Update: How did I miss this must-see tribute??