Friday, March 11, 2011

Space shuttle Endeavour rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 10, 2011.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

PHOTOS OF THE DAY... A day after Discovery entered retirement after completing mission STS-133, Endeavour began her own swan song by arriving on the launch pad at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center last night. The countdown to the end of the space shuttle program continues ticking.

Crowds gather and watch as space shuttle Endeavour heads to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 10, 2011.
NASA / Terry Zaperach

Space shuttle Endeavour sits atop her launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 11, 2011.
NASA / Jack Pfaller

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final time on March 9, 2011.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

THE END BEGINS... At 8:57 AM, Pacific Time today, space shuttle Discovery safely landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida...bringing an end to her storied 26-plus year career that involved launching the Hubble Space Telescope into Earth orbit in 1990, sending John Glenn (who became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962) into space for the second time in 1998, and returning to flight the U.S. space shuttle fleet after the 1986 Challenger and 2003 Columbia disasters. Discovery is now destined to find her final home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.

The International Space Station as seen from space shuttle Discovery after she undocked from the orbital outpost on March 7, 2011.

On a personal note, the final mission of space shuttle Discovery is significant to me in that I actually had a presence, so to speak, onboard the orbiter. My name and face, along with 194,180 others, were digitally transmitted up to the vehicle during her flight. They were gathered as part of NASA’s Face in Space campaign that started last June. In case you missed out on having your name and face onboard Discovery, you can submit your name and face to fly on Endeavour during her final flight, STS-134—which is scheduled to launch next month. You can submit your name (and face...sorry for being repetitive) even on the day of her launch, which is April 19. That is all.

My participation certificate for space shuttle flight STS-133.