December 19, 2011
Discovery Powered Down One Last Time
NASA powered down its space shuttle Discovery for the final time last Friday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The vehicle was "unplugged" inside Orbiter Processing Facility-1 (OPF-1) in Florida. The shutdown came soon after technicians closed the shuttle's twin 60-foot long payload bay doors.
Discovery is going to be set on display next spring at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steve F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.
The shuttle's three electricity-generating fuel cells were reinstalled last week, but then they were drained of all their reactants.
Discovery has been taken apart to preserve some of its components for future use while making the vehicle safe for public display since it flew its final mission in March.
The space vehicle's engines have been removed and replaced with replicas and its thrusters have been cleaned of hazardous materials.
Its waste collection system was removed, cleaned and replaced, and its flight deck was configured to appear ready for another mission.
The shuttle will fly aboard NASA's modified Boeing 747 carrier aircraft in April 2012 to Dulles Airport in Virginia.
Discovery will then be unloaded by cranes and rolled into the Udvar-Hazy's James S. McDonnell Space Hanger
The shuttle will replace the prototype shuttle Enterprise at the facility, which has been on display there since 2003.
Enterprise is already on its way to New York City to go on exhibit at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Image Caption: Discovery performing the Rendezvous pitch maneuver prior to docking with the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
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