Seven years ago today, the birth of America was commemorated and the Space Shuttle Program brought back on-track when Discovery lifted off from Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. STS-121 began almost a year after the original Return to Flight mission, STS-114, had Discovery soar to the International Space Station more than two years after the Columbia disaster...only for the shuttle fleet to be grounded once more after unacceptable amounts of foam continued to fall off the external fuel tank during the ascent to orbit. Now, all of this is obviously history—with Discovery safely on display at the Smithsonian and her three sister ships also serving as inspiration to future astronauts who visit Atlantis at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, Endeavour inside the California Science Center in Los Angeles and Enterprise aboard the deck of the USS Intrepid in New York City, respectively. We shall see if Orion and the Space Launch System ever soar into the sky on a symbolic U.S. holiday like the 4th of July... The 30-year era of the space shuttle will be a tough one to beat.
NASA / Tony Gray