In the blue skies above Florida the shuttle Discovery glided into land. Kennedy Space centre’s landing strip came into view for the last time after a 27 year career.
In that time Discovery had carried the first female pilot, the first African American space walker and the oldest astronaut John Glenn. It became a symbol of NASA’s perseverance when it became the first shuttle to go back into orbit following the Columbia and Challenger accidents. The commander spoke of the crew’s feelings after touching down.
“Imagine it’s a pretty bitter sweet moment for all of us, as the minutes passed I’m getting sadder and sadder about being the last flight and I know all folks involved in the shuttle program feel the same way,” said Steven Lindsey.
The six crew had spent an extended 13 day mission in space linking up with the international space station. Discovery is now destined for the Smithsonian museum. Its 39th final mission had completed 365 days in orbit travelling over 238 million kilometres in space
Discovery was named after a a wooden sailing ship that reached the south pole in 1901, somewhere in view on the earth below in the last pictures of its final orbit.