Courtesy of NASA
UPDATE, April 17 at 7:44 p.m.:
The plane carrying Discovery left the Kennedy Space Center at 6:58 a.m. and flew over D.C. at around 10 a.m.
The shuttle landed at Dulles International Airport and will soon be transported to the Smithsonian Institution to be put on display.
Students on the Quad may see more than clouds in the sky on April 17.
NASA’s space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to fly over parts of the D.C. metropolitan area between 10 and 11 a.m., according to an April 9 NASA press release.
The shuttle will travel from NASA’s launch site at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. to Chantilly, Va. to be on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, NASA spokesperson Michael Curie said.
The Federal Aviation Administration planned the flight with NASA to fly over the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor, Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and finally land at Dulles International Airport.
“Discovery could just fly straight to Dulles without flying around Washington,” Curie said. “But a lot of people have asked to see the shuttle flying over the area, so NASA is hoping the weather will be favorable and we can let as many people see Discovery.”
Laura Brown, a FAA spokesperson said the Administration collaborated with NASA about the flight route.
“Working with the NASA pilots of the 747 and other NASA officials, the FAA developed a specific route for the aircraft and will be in constant communication with the pilots during the flight,” she said in an email to The Eagle.
Students at AU plan to look out for the shuttle’s journey over D.C.
“It’s really cool that we will be able to see the Discovery space shuttle flying in the sky,” Whitney Livingston, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences said. “I’m going to try to look out for it.”
Kenny Laughton, a sophomore in the School of International Service, followed the news of Discovery’s past missions and is eager to see the shuttle in air on Tuesday.
“I remember reading and seeing news about Discovery shuttle’s missions in the past,” Laughton said. “I’m excited to see the shuttle flying above us.”
Discovery will be mounted atop NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on what NASA calls a “ferry flight,” according to Curie.
After Discovery’s last mission in space in February 2011, NASA prepared the shuttle for display by disassembling parts of the shuttle so hazardous chemical plumbing and hardware would not affect visitors.
NASA first launched Discovery to carry three communications satellites into space in 1984. The space shuttle also deployed the Hubble Space Telescope and helped launch the Ulysses spacecraft in a mission to explore the sun in 1990, according to NASA’s website.
NASA’s new mission for the Discovery at the National Air & Space Museum is to commemorate past achievements in space, to educate and to inspire future generations of explorers.
“The National Air & Space Museum holds the national collection, and as such, deserves to receive one of the space shuttles,” Curie said. “The museum asked for Discovery and NASA was happy to provide it.”