The Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery (OV-103) is one of six orbiters built, one of five orbiters to launch into space (low Earth orbit), and one of four surviving orbiters. It is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex, adjacent to Dulles International Airport in the Washington D.C. area of Virginia.
Some Discovery facts and figures:
- Named after a long line of seafaring ships, including HMS Discovery, commanded by James Cook
- Construction: Started Aug 27, 1979. Completed Feb 25, 1983
- 3rd of 5 built (not counting the engineless Enterprise)
- 27 years of service
- First Mission: STS-41-D. Launched August 30, 1984
- Last Mission: STS-133. Launched Feb 24, 2011
- Missions flown: 39
- Flight Stats: Flown 149 million miles (238 million km), 5,830 orbits, 365 accumulated days in orbit.
- More famous missions: Hubble Space Telescope delivery/deployment, International Space Station (ISS) assembly, MIR and ISS crew exchange and resupply, Ulysses probe launch, TDRS satellite launches, John Glenn ‘return to space’ flight.
A caveat on the photos: As with most aerospace museums, the exhibits are crammed-in and the display areas are cramped. Getting profile shots of the whole vehicle is nearly impossible. Also, other displays, hand rails and barriers, facility beams and girders, and, of course, the museum patrons, also get in the way of obtaining that ‘perfect’ shot.
If anyone requires more detailed close-ups of any of the ship’s minutiae, send me an email or message and I’ll be glad to ‘zoom in’ and extract desired portions of the larger format photos.