The Space Legacy of Shuttle Discovery

Dark Shape


With its drag chute fully deployed, space shuttle Discovery lands on Kennedy's brightly lighted Shuttle Landing Facility runway 15, completing the 9-day, 19-hour, 13-minute and 1-second STS-96 mission. Main gear touchdown was at 2:02:43 a.m. EDT June 6, landing on orbit 154. This was the 94th flight in the space shuttle program and the 26th for Discovery. This image was taken June 6, 1999.

In Arm's Way

Scott Andrews

This closeup taken from the 195-foot level at Launch Pad 39A shows the orbiter access arm as it extends toward the side of Discovery. At the end is the environmentally controlled White Room, which provides entry into the orbiter. Discovery is scheduled to launch in early August on mission STS-105. Photo by Scott Andrews using a Nikon D1X camera. This image was taken July 2, 2001.

Pimp My Ride


Workers in the Orbiter Processing Facility watch closely as Discovery's Forward Reaction Control System is lowered into position in the orbiter's forward fuselage nose area. The system provides the thrust for pitch, yaw and roll, and for small velocity changes along the orbiter axis. Discovery was being prepped as the return to flight vehicle for mission STS-114. This image was taken June 22, 2004.

Spy in the Sky


Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao used a digital camera to photograph the rollout of the Space Shuttle Discovery at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center from an altitude of 220 statute miles. Chiao captured the rollout at 4:35 p.m. EDT as the station flew directly over the launch site. Visible in the image are the Shuttle’s two launch pads at Launch Complex 39. Discovery’s launch pad, 39-B, is on the left. This image was taken Apr. 6, 2005.

Greeting from Far Away

Bill McQuade

Members of the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division Governorate Support Team stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, are shown holding the "Go Discovery" banner they signed to show their support for NASA's Return to Flight. The banner was displayed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where Lt. Col. William McQuade (top row, second from left) works as an engineer. As an Army Reservist, he was deployed to Iraq where he served with the U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General Corps. This image was taken May 25, 2005.

Take Me with You


Discovery sits on top of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747, as it is towed into the mate/demate device at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility. Discovery was returned to Kennedy Space Center on a ferry flight from Edwards Air Force Base in California, where it landed after 13 days in space on mission STS-114. This image was taken Aug. 21, 2005.

In the Evening

NASA/Ken Thornsley

Amid the lights from the fixed and rotating service structures, space shuttle Discovery rests on the hardstand of Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida after completing the 4.2-mile journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building. The rollout was in preparation for its launch on mission STS-121 to the International Space Station. This image was taken May 19, 2006.

Right in Front Behind You

NASA/Charisse Nahser

The vehicle processing team says a final goodbye and gathers for a photo in front of space shuttle Discovery after its exit from the Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3 in preparation for launch to the International Space Station for mission STS-120. This image was taken Sept. 23, 2007.

Discovery in the Sky with Diamonds

NASA/Tom Farrar, Scott Haun, Raphael Hernandez

Space shuttle Discovery roars between the clouds into the blue Florida sky toward space on mission STS-120 to the International Space Station. Below the three main engines are the blue cones of light, known as shock or mach diamonds. They are a formation of shock waves in the exhaust plume of an aerospace propulsion system. This image was taken Oct. 23, 2007.


NASA/Bill Ingalls

Under a full moon on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery is revealed after the rotating service structure has been rolled back in preparation to launch on mission STS-119 to the International Space Station. This image was taken March 11, 2009.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: Staff
News and editorial team is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.