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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-133 Mission Specialists Nicole Stott and Michael Barratt pose for a photographer in front of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on which space shuttle Discovery has been secured for departure.  Stott and Barratt were members of the crew to fly on Discovery’s final mission in February and March 2011.  Other members of the STS-133 crew were Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen. Discovery is scheduled to depart from Kennedy for the final time tomorrow morning.    Also known as an SCA, the aircraft is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. The SCA designated NASA 905 is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites.  NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. For more information on the SCA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-013-DFRC.html. For more information on shuttle transition and retirement activities, visit http://www.nasa.gov/transition. Photo credit: NASA/Tim Jacobs KSC-2012-2296
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – At NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, crew members of space shuttle Discovery’s last mission, STS-133, have arrived. Mission Specialist Nicole Stott visits with the media. Also present, but not in view, are Mission Specialists Michael Barrett, Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew, Pilot Eric Boe and Commander Steve Lindsay. The crew arrived to view the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, with space shuttle Discovery attached atop after being backed away from the mate/demate device. Known as the MDD, the devise is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the SCA.    The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet that was originally manufactured for commercial use and modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. For more information on the SCA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-013-DFRC.html. For more information on shuttle transition and retirement activities, visit http://www.nasa.gov/transition. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis KSC-2012-2286

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – At NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, crew members of space shuttle Discovery’s last mission, STS-133, have arrived. Mission Specialist Nicole Stott visits with the media. Also present, but not in view, are Mission Specialists Michael Barrett, Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew, Pilot Eric Boe and Commander Steve Lindsay. The crew arrived to view the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, with space shuttle Discovery attached atop after being backed away from the mate/demate device. Known as the MDD, the devise is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the SCA. The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet that was originally manufactured for commercial use and modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. For more information on the SCA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-013-DFRC.html. For more information on shuttle transition and retirement activities, visit http://www.nasa.gov/transition. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis KSC-2012-2286

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – At NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, crew members of space shuttle Discovery’s last mission, STS-133, have arrived. Mission Specialist Alvin Drew visits with the media. Also present, but not in view, are Mission Specialists Nicole Stott, Michael Barrett and Steve Bowen, Pilot Eric Boe and Commander Steve Lindsay. In the background is the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, with space shuttle Discovery attached atop after being backed away from the mate/demate device. Known as the MDD, the devise is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the SCA.    The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet that was originally manufactured for commercial use and modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. For more information on the SCA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-013-DFRC.html. For more information on shuttle transition and retirement activities, visit http://www.nasa.gov/transition. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis KSC-2012-2285

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – At NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, crew members of space shuttle Discovery’s last mission, STS-133, have arrived. Mission Specialist Alvin Drew visits with the media. Also present, but not in view, are Mission Specialists Nicole Stott, Michael Barrett and Steve Bowen, Pilot Eric Boe and Commander Steve Lindsay. In the background is the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, with space shuttle Discovery attached atop after being backed away from the mate/demate device. Known as the MDD, the devise is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the SCA. The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet that was originally manufactured for commercial use and modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. For more information on the SCA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-013-DFRC.html. For more information on shuttle transition and retirement activities, visit http://www.nasa.gov/transition. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis KSC-2012-2285

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-133 Mission Specialists Nicole Stott and Michael Barratt pose for a photographer in front of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on which space shuttle Discovery has been secured for departure. Stott and Barratt were members of the crew to fly on Discovery’s final mission in February and March 2011. Other members of the STS-133 crew were Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen. Discovery is scheduled to depart from Kennedy for the final time tomorrow morning. Also known as an SCA, the aircraft is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. The SCA designated NASA 905 is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. For more information on the SCA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-013-DFRC.html. For more information on shuttle transition and retirement activities, visit http://www.nasa.gov/transition. Photo credit: NASA/Tim Jacobs KSC-2012-2296

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-133 Mission Specialists Nicole Stott and Michael Barratt pose for a photographer in front of a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on which space shuttle Discovery has been secured for departure. Stott and Barratt were members of the crew to fly on Discovery’s final mission in February and March 2011. Other members of the STS-133 crew were Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen. Discovery is scheduled to depart from Kennedy for the final time tomorrow morning. Also known as an SCA, the aircraft is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. The SCA designated NASA 905 is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites. NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. For more information on the SCA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-013-DFRC.html. For more information on shuttle transition and retirement activities, visit http://www.nasa.gov/transition. Photo credit: NASA/Tim Jacobs

The Space Shuttle program was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011, administered by NASA and officially beginning in 1972. The Space Shuttle system—composed of an orbiter launched with two reusable solid rocket boosters and a disposable external fuel tank— carried up to eight astronauts and up to 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). When its mission was complete, the orbiter would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and lands as a glider. Although the concept had been explored since the late 1960s, the program formally commenced in 1972 and was the focus of NASA's manned operations after the final Apollo and Skylab flights in the mid-1970s. It started with the launch of the first shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, on STS-1. and finished with its last mission, STS-135 flown by Atlantis, in July 2011.

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