Discovery's Space Shuttle

Discovery's Space Shuttle
The space shuttle Discovery took off on its final voyage, on a piggyback jet ride to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Virginia annex.

The United States retired its space shuttles last year after finishing construction of the $100 billion International Space Station, a project of 15 countries, to begin work on a new generation of spaceships that can carry astronauts to destinations beyond the station's 240-mile-high (384-km-high) orbit.

For its last ride, Discovery took off not from its seaside launch pad but atop a modified Boeing 747 carrier jet that taxied down the Kennedy Space Center's runway at dawn. The shuttle's tail was capped with an aerodynamically shaped cone and its windows were covered.

Discovery's Space Shuttle

Discovery's Space Shuttle

Discovery's Space Shuttle

Discovery's Space Shuttle

Discovery's Space Shuttle

Discovery's Space Shuttle

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