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  4/17: Shuttle Discovery's ferry flight to Virginia (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   4/17: Shuttle Discovery's ferry flight to Virginia
Gonzo
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posted 04-17-2012 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just happened to get back to my desk in time to watch it land. Great landing and great coverage.

My understanding is NASA will continue coverage to show the unmating from the SCA, tow to the museum and more. Stay tuned!

Looking forward to seeing it in person May 13th! (Business travel puts me at Dulles that day. I've scheduled time to "visit" the museum.)

garymilgrom
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posted 04-17-2012 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A poignant flight to be sure.

Farewell Discovery and we thank you.

astro-nut
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posted 04-17-2012 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is Discovery scheduled to be de-mated from the SCA today or will it be scheduled for tomorrow? Will NASA TV be showing coverage of it all day today/tomorrow?

Thank you Discovery for a job well done!!!

astro-nut
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posted 04-17-2012 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While watching Discovery and the SCA land this morning at Dulles, on NASA TV, I heard conversation about one of the T-38 was possibly getting low on fuel? Is this correct or were they referring to another aircraft?

thump
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posted 04-17-2012 01:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for thump   Click Here to Email thump     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great viewings from the National Mall in DC this morning, at 9:50 Discovery and the SCA flew up (down) the Potomac going north to south past the Washington Monument and then past Reagan National, then past National Harbor, then came back from Virginia, passing the Washington Monument and flying up the Mall from west to east, passing between National Air and Space Museum and NASA HQ, circling the Capitol building, before repeating the last circuit a second time.

Lunar_module_5
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posted 04-17-2012 02:38 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Watching Discovery being ferried to the Smithsonian today I couldn't help but think back to the ALT flights — 35 years ago — when the possibility of a reusable spacecraft capable of making the trip to orbit 100 times didn't seem a million miles away... how times change.

328KF
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posted 04-17-2012 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I decided to view the flyovers at Reagan National Airport and was not disappointed. The Discovery/SCA performed a total of four passes over the park just north of the field. There were a lot of people out there, and fortunately, I wasn't the only one who kept a kid home from school today!

It turned out to be alot of fun... NASA HQ had a table set up for the kids to see and touch real EVA gloves, various flight suits, and shuttle tiles. My daughter and I even got interviewed by a local D.C. TV station.

Here are some of my photos from today. Can't wait for Thursday's events!

328KF
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posted 04-17-2012 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

tncmaxq
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posted 04-17-2012 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tncmaxq   Click Here to Email tncmaxq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tremendous photos. Kind of wish I had headed down there yesterday for the photo op today. Instead I plan to leave tomorrow for the ceremony and early bird viewing Thurs. and Friday.

Still no word apparently on which astronauts might be at the museum on Thursday. I was disappointed to see on Mike Mullane's Facebook page that he will not be there.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-17-2012 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Space shuttle Discovery lands in Washington for Smithsonian display

Space shuttle Discovery, NASA's fleet leader and the world's most flown spacecraft, landed in the nation's capital on Tuesday (April 17) where it will go on permanent display by the Smithsonian later this week.

The retired spacecraft was delivered to the nation's capital mounted to the space agency's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet, on a final ferry flight that included an historic flyover of the National Mall and some of its nearby monuments and federal buildings.

The air- and spacecraft duo landed at Washington Dulles International Airport at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT).

"This is a WOW day!" exclaimed Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "That is the only way to express it. I don't know how many people said 'wow!' when they saw that beautiful Discovery flying over and coming in. This is a great day for America."

dragon001
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posted 04-17-2012 05:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragon001     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, the three passes over Udvar-Hazy were all surreal. First two times; the SCA and shuttle came over LOW AND SLOW.
quote:
Originally posted by astro-nut:
Is Discovery scheduled to be de-mated from the SCA today or will it be scheduled for tomorrow?
After Discovery landed, I visited the museum. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the guys with United Space Alliance.

Demate is not scheduled to begin until Wednesday evening at 8:00 p.m. (demate with a crane requires winds less than 10 mph).

While the shuttle is visible from the entrance/exit road to Udvar-Hazy at the ramps to Route 28, this is a no-stopping zone.

I asked the Udvar-Hazy police if anyone would mind if I parked (or took a hotel shuttle) and walked to the ramps — they said, provided no vehicle is there, no problem. — you will need a long lens or binoculars.

The sergeant I spoke with gave me the direct line into Udvar-Hazy police offices, and said if I'm worried, just call and let them know I'm photographing the space shuttle.

A fellow from Chantilly mentioned one can drive to the airport Parking Structure 2; and see the shuttle from the top of the deck. This is a little over one mile away.

While the shuttle demating area (Apron W) is visible from the road into the museum at 28; demate will occur overnight under rough lighting conditions.

United Space Alliance guys tell me "we are struggling to get enough light" and "cranes will be used around midnight, we think" so weather crushes photo ops and viewing of the demate.

drjeffbang
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posted 04-17-2012 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for drjeffbang   Click Here to Email drjeffbang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We had a great time watching the SCA/Discovery from Udvar-Hazy this morning. I'm curious, does the SCA have a unique "call sign" when it is flying?

Also, great coverage and interview with Mike Mullane on CBS Evening News!

dragon001
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posted 04-17-2012 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragon001     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by drjeffbang:
I'm curious, does the SCA have a unique "call sign" when it is flying?
Yes, this morning, was N905NA. The other aircraft is N911NA.

stsmithva
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posted 04-17-2012 07:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stsmithva   Click Here to Email stsmithva     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Discovery Fly-by Breakfast Reception at Udvar-Hazy was great. It was on the fifth floor, which is an unfinished (bare girders, etc.) area big enough for a couple of hundred people to enjoy a fine breakfast buffet spread, with wall-height windows overlooking Dulles Airport. (National Air and Space Museum Director Jack Dailey mentioned that it was unfinished because they haven't found a sponsor, "so if you'd like your name in lights" up there, give him a call.)

There was also a huge balcony outside those windows, providing a fine view of the runway the 747 and Discovery would be using.

It was surprisingly windy, so I'm only reasonably certain I'm posing with my wife:

I see that others have already posted better photos than I took of the flyovers, so I'll just show how I checked the accuracy of my 1/400 scale 747 and Discovery model.

(If you live in the DC area, and if you are really into space and aviation, and if you can afford it, I really recommend splurging on a Mercury 7-level membership with the National Air and Space Society. I've received invitations to four events in the last year, any one of which would have been worth it. Plus of course you'd be supporting the National Air and Space Museum.)

I took a half-day off work for this, and when I got back to the elementary school where I teach I was happy to hear that they had indeed gotten a ten-second view of the flyover. One teacher shot a video, and it was so nice to hear 500 kids scream with excitement as it went by.

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-17-2012 07:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That last photo is priceless. I don't think the bottom of your 1/400 shuttle is gray enough though (too black).

I remember when people were complaining about how the Dragon 747 SCA diecast looked a bit too blue when they came out last year. While indeed it is a bit too blue, it turns out that the 747s do have a slight tint of blue in their white paint after all. At some angles, the blue tint was rather easy to spot in the photos and the television footage, depending on the lighting conditions.

micropooz
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posted 04-17-2012 08:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
View from my condo. I like to call this one "Smithsonian: 1854-2012"...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-17-2012 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was among the media invited by the Smithsonian to be alongside the runway at Dulles for today's flybys and landing. It was a unique experience even without the shuttle, and getting to ride a mobile lounge out to the runway was more than appropriate for the event.

At the runway, we were joined by NASA and Dulles invited dignitaries and family members, including NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe and astronaut Janet Kavandi. The National Air and Space Museum's space shuttle curator Valerie Neal was also there with a documentary crew following her around.

The previous few days in Florida were all a new experience to me, having never witnessed SCA mating ops during the active shuttle program but today's flybys evoked memories of watching space shuttle Endeavour fly over Johnson Space Center several years ago as it was ferried back to Florida from Edwards Air Force Base.

After Discovery landed, we followed it to the apron where it will be demated from the SCA. There I had a brief chance to chat with some of the SCA flight crew members, who said the ferry went without problem.

The photo gallery linked earlier in this thread shares the view I had, as well as the vantage point Ben Cooper enjoyed from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building for Discovery's departure from the Kennedy Space Center earlier this morning.

328KF
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posted 04-17-2012 08:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by drjeffbang:
I'm curious, does the SCA have a unique "call sign" when it is flying?
Interestingly, the radio call sign for all of the aircraft involved in today's operation was "Pluto" with the tail number following, i.e. the SCA was "Pluto 95 Heavy" and the accompanying T-38's followed suite. "Heavy" is a suffix added to all large aircraft for the purposes of wake turbulence awareness. Being that it involved multiple aircraft, "Flight" was also added to the callsign, so you hear them referred to as "Pluto 95 Heavy Flight."

I don't know if this was due in part to security issues or not, but I would add that all flight tracking on the websites I mentioned previously was blocked from the public. You might conclude that with no public tracking and an obscure call sign that these were indeed efforts to discourage any opportunistic foul play.

Ali Valshi on CNN had some fantastic commentary during their landing coverage that I had recorded (he is obviously very pro-space, being an early investor in SpaceX). He suggested that the "Pluto" call sign was based upon the fact that Pluto was once a planet that is no longer considered a planet... an analogy to the orbiter no longer being space-worthy.

An interesting thought, but if I happen to catch up with any of the crew members at the event on Thursday I'll be sure to ask their version of the story.

By the way, I think Steven's last pic is the most creative one I have seen yet!

ilbasso
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posted 04-17-2012 09:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by astro-nut:
I heard conversation about one of the T-38 was possibly getting low on fuel?
We heard it loud and clear on the ATC radio (and on the NASA TV YouTube video of it) that the T-38 was "fuel critical" on final approach. They cleared runway 1 Center for it, shooing off a waiting plane, and told the news copter to stay above 2,000 feet so that the T-38 could make a priority landing as soon as the SCA was down.

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-17-2012 10:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember that dialog. Was he really that low on gas? The Pluto call sign I also found a little amusing as well. It was nice to hear the ATC and Dulles tower feed through NASA's television coverage.

ilbasso
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posted 04-18-2012 07:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I'll say it again: You have the best freakin' job in the whole damn world!

And thank you for being so generous in sharing your photos almost in real time. The only way your coverage could be better would be if you wore Google Goggles and transmitted 24/7.

Fezman92
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posted 04-18-2012 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When they move Enterprise out of the museum and Discovery in will that be open to the public?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2012 08:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Enterprise will be moved out before the Udvar-Hazy is open to the public and Discovery will move in after the museum closes. The media has been invited to be present for both and so look for a photo gallery in the near future...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2012 09:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tncmaxq:
Still no word apparently on which astronauts might be at the museum on Thursday.
The following Discovery astronauts will be on stage during the ceremony:
    Discovery Commanders

  • Karol Bobko
  • Joe Engle
  • Michael Coats
  • Fred Gregory
  • Robert Cabana
  • Kenneth Cameron
  • Frank Culbertson
  • Charles Bolden
  • Curtis Brown
  • Charles Precourt
  • Scott Horowitz
  • Eileen Collins
  • Steve Lindsey
  • Frederick Sturckow
  • Alan Poindexter

    Discovery Mission Specialists:

  • Joe Allen
  • Patrick Forrester
  • John Grunsfeld
  • Tom Jones*
  • Janet Kavandi
  • Leland Melvin*
  • Paolo Nespoli
  • Bill Readdy
  • Ken Reightler
  • Steve Robinson
  • Kathryn Thornton
  • Don Williams
John Glenn will be presenting during the ceremony, as well.

* Jones and Melvin are honorary Discovery astronauts for the purpose of the ceremony.

Update: STS-135 commander Chris Ferguson will also join the procession as an honorary Discovery astronaut.

PeterO
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posted 04-18-2012 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterO   Click Here to Email PeterO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
Interestingly, the radio call sign for all of the aircraft involved in today's operation was "Pluto" with the tail number following, i.e. the SCA was "Pluto 95 Heavy" and the accompanying T-38's followed suite.
ATC was using different call signs for each NASA aircraft separately, as well as for the combined flight of the SCA and chase aircraft.

"Pluto Flight" was used to direct all three aircraft, with one of the T-38s designated Pluto Flight leader for the purpose of ATC communications.

There was some discussion with one of the controllers regarding the transponder squawk code being used, with the controller asking for one code, and the SCA's crew telling her that the code had been prearranged at a different value.

If I recall correctly, one of the T-38s was Pluto 88.

drjeffbang
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posted 04-18-2012 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for drjeffbang   Click Here to Email drjeffbang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great pictures above! Thanks for the call sign info.

Any idea who was flying/riding in T-38 55? In one of my pictures, it looks like the rear seater was waving to the crowd.

thump
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posted 04-18-2012 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for thump   Click Here to Email thump     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any idea or word if the demating will be affected by the rain falling in the area?

tncmaxq
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posted 04-18-2012 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tncmaxq   Click Here to Email tncmaxq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tremendous line up of astronauts. I hope I get to meet them all.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2012 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by thump:
Any idea or word if the demating will be affected by the rain falling in the area?
Per NASA public affairs:
Overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday, Discovery was readied for sling installation and its subsequent removal from the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

Offload operations will begin Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, final preparations for the rollout of Enterprise have been completed in preparation for mating later this week.

The forward attach point hardware, referred to as the tee pee and arrowhead, has been installed and the tire pressures have been checked.

I just returned from the Udvar-Hazy, where I spoke briefly with a United Space Alliance spokesperson and Smithsonian curators, who added that other than the demating operations being moved into the night, everything was proceeding to schedule.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2012 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
And thank you for being so generous in sharing your photos almost in real time. The only way your coverage could be better would be if you wore Google Goggles and transmitted 24/7.
Thank you Jonathan! I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that collectSPACE has afforded me and so I feel obligated to pay it back by sharing those experiences in the best ways I know how.

(And were Google Glasses available right now, I might very well be wearing a pair of them, too. I came quite close on this trip to strapping a GoPro camera to my head...)

dragon001
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posted 04-18-2012 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragon001     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I went to Dulles, after Udvar-Hazy, today and had a good view of Discovery from both levels 4 and 5 of deck 2. I spoke with Dulles Airport Police about returning tonight to take some pictures of the demate operation.

I might head over around 9 or 10 tonight for an hour or two, if weather clears up. No word on what lighting will allow us to see.

Note: If you go with a camera — the views of Discovery are on the deck levels with no cover. Equipment will get wet!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2012 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hazy view of Discovery awaiting its demating tonight from the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, as seen from Udvar-Hazy's Engen observation tower:

At Udvar-Hazy, workers are readying the hangar doors for Enterprise to rollout and Discovery to roll in. The opening for the shuttles' vertical stabilizers is now open.

BBlatcher
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posted 04-18-2012 06:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BBlatcher     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Quick question: What mechanism keeps the shuttle attached to the 747? Looking at this photo, it seems as though it sits on a half ball, is that so?

dragon001
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posted 04-18-2012 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragon001     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This agrees with the image at Wikipedia, much closer.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2012 09:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The orbiter attaches to the SCA on three points: one forward and two aft. The two aft ball mounts use the same receptacles as are used to mate the orbiter to the external tank. The forward, called the teepee is installed for ferry operations.

Once lowered onto the attach points, bolts are torqued to secure the connection.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2012 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Demating ops are now underway at Dulles Airport in preparation for rolling over Discovery to the Udvar-Hazy Center for Thursday morning's transfer ceremony.


Photo credit: collectSPACE.com/Ben Cooper

APG85
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posted 04-18-2012 11:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, fantastic picture!!

413 is in
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posted 04-18-2012 11:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 413 is in   Click Here to Email 413 is in     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't compete with the other fine photos of the Discovery flyover but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to view the event without ever leaving my home.

This is a screen capture from a video that I shot from my condo balcony in Alexandria, Virginia. We are located approximately 3 miles south of the Pentagon and Washington DC, just ten blocks off of the Potomac River.

The shuttle actually made two passes by our house on its final journey. This was the first pass as it flew from north to south following the flight path from National Airport over the Potomac river. About 10 minutes after this, Discovery returned for a second pass headed in the opposite direction back toward the National Mall.

The launch gantry (I mean tower crane) was located at the construction site for a new condominium complex directly across the street from my house. Wouldn't you know, the crane was just erected less than a week before the shuttle flyby. I'm sure glad that the building has not yet been completed as I would not have been able to witness this event from the convenience of my own home. It was a day to remember!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-19-2012 04:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery is off the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and will come to the Udvar-Hazy Center later today.


Photo credit: Smithsonian/Dennis Jenkins

Additional photos can be found on NASA HQ's Flickr group.

cspg
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posted 04-19-2012 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stsmithva:
It was surprisingly windy, so I'm only reasonably certain I'm posing with my wife
The one in the middle?

More seriously, beautiful shot from Ben Cooper on Astronomy Picture of the Day for April 19.


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