Discovery Shuttle Landing Ends Historic Voyage

Science - Space & Astronomy

Discovery ended its 27-year space career with the shuttle’s last ever landing this afternoon, March 9, touching down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and successfully completing its final mission, STS-133.

The space shuttle’s 39th trip into space was a complete success, installing the Permanent Multipurpose Module “Leonardo” at the International Space Station and delivering Robonaut 2 to the station, the first humanoid robot in space.

"I am so glad we got to land here at Kennedy, the home of Discovery," STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey said according to NASA. "My crew did a fantastic job; we accomplished every objective plus a whole bunch more. As the minutes pass, I'm actually getting sadder and sadder about this being the last flight, and I know all the folks involved with the shuttle program feel the same way."

Following the successful landing, the six astronauts and NASA officials spent a few moments on the runway, marking the spacecraft’s long list of accomplishments such as transporting the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

In total, the vessel has spent a whole year in space over the course of its missions, since its first launch in 1984. Among Discovery's many astronauts were Charles Bolden, now administrator for the space agency, and Bob Cabana, now Kennedy Space Center Director, who were both on hand to bid farewell to the spacecraft.

"This is very bittersweet for all of us," Bolden said. "Discovery holds a special place for me and for Bob Cabana over here because we both had the opportunity to fly on it twice."

The ship will be put on display as a museum piece, and the venue will be announced in April. It is the first of NASA's orbiters to enter retirement with the rest of the space shuttle fleet, the Endeavor and the Atlantis, to follow this year.