Discovery's Final Flight

Today, the world watched the space shuttle Discovery launch on her final voyage to space. After 39 successful missions, counting the one begun today, Discovery has a rich history in human spaceflight. I can’t tell you all her wonderful stories, but she has been linked to many milestones. Go here to read about Discovery’s career in detail:

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other NASA management watch the launch of space shuttle Discovery (STS-133) from the firing room at Kennedy Space Center, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Discovery, on its 39th and final flight, is carrying the Italian-built Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), Express Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4) and Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

It was my honor to fly aboard Discovery on the STS-31 mission in 1990 when she brought the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit for us. And on STS-60, when Sergei Krikalev, the first Russian to fly on an American spacecraft, was a crewmember. Discovery also was the orbiter for the final Shuttle/Mir docking mission and, after tragic losses, gave us hope when we returned to flight after the shuttle Challenger and Columbia accidents. The thousands of workers who have made Discovery’s storied legacy possible deserve our deepest gratitude.

While today is bittersweet for us, we are also excited about what the future holds for humans in space. Over the past months, we’ve seen many milestones in the commercial space industry that will help us bring humans to space in the future. Commercial space is fast becoming a reality and the capabilities NASA itself is starting to develop will reshape our perspective on what is possible. We’re looking at once in a lifetime opportunities to create the future. Let’s keep that in mind as we celebrate the history we have made and shape it anew.

Godspeed to the crew of Discovery on this tough bird’s final voyage!

Watch video of the launch here: