A Tribute to the Space Shuttle

I decided to do a little special pictorial about yesterday’s last flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery on board Pluto 95 heavy, one of two Space Shuttle Carrier Aircraft from the NASA. This flight positioned the Discovery to its final resting place – it will be on display at the Udvar Hazy-Center of the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport. At least this is a truly great place to end any flying machine’s life – be it a plane, a rocket, a satellite, a Moon Capsule or a Space Shuttle. And it also reminds us of the sad end of Space Shuttle flights again.

As the Discovery was turning its last circles over the National Mall in Washington, DC, bringing the capital to a halt, many friends of mine posted pictures on Facebook they took with their cameras. Sadly I couldn’t be in DC to see this historical event in person. After all I couldn’t imagine a better place for the Discovery, the so called star of the Shuttle fleet, than Washington, DC. Well, actually the site of the Museum is in Virginia, but you know what I mean, right? DC is my absolute favorite city in the World, and I would love to go back and live there again one day.

These pictures are in memory of the NASA Space Shuttle program. They are also to remember all the great men and women that died during those missions, on board the Challenger and on board the Columbia.

Flight Pluto 95 heavy departed Kennedy Space Center in Florida around dawn yesterday. It arrived in DC at around 11 am EST and did some low passes over the National Mall at around 1,500 feet, and at Reagan National Airport, before finally landing at Dulles International Airport. I tried to reproduce the conditions during that flight, within the limitations of FS. I used historical weather data from the respective times yesterday at Kennedy Space Center, and in DC. As there is no realistic Boeing 747-100 cockpit/aircraft available, I only did a photo shoot and did not fly the complete flight. The model is by Project Opensky, and even has the Discovery attached to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. I hope you enjoy those shots. May the Space Shuttle forever live in our hearts and memories!

The official NASA tribute to the Discovery.
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Take-Off, or should I say Lift-Off, at Kennedy Space Center. The sun is still rising.
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Slowly N905NA takes to the skies. Though modified, all that additional weight on her back brings her to operational limits.
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This is where the Discovery was launched into Space on her 39 missions: The Cape Canaveral launch pads.
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Turning into the sunrise. She will never return to this place again.
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After coming all the way from Florida, the Discovery is doing a fly-by over Reagan National Airport. Even though it’s not out of her own power.
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Thousands of people have gathered at the National Mall to witness the low pass at 1,500 feet. Here’s a nice picture with the Washington Monument in it.
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Close-up.
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The northern part of the Mall. From Washington Monument in the right corner to the Lincoln Memorial, almost at the Potomac. You can also see the White House, the Jefferson Memorial at the lower bank of the Tidal Basin, and Rosslyn, VA on the other side of the Potomac. I saw the Blue Angels doing some practice runs over the rooftops of Rosslyn last winter, prior to the Army-Navy game at FedEx-Field. That was quite spectacular.
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The US Capitol. Been in there and I can only recommend to visit this historic and interesting site.
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The dome of the Capitol. Sadly FS doesn’t have the Statue of Freedom on top, I wonder why that is.
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Pluto 95 heavy is passing just over our heads above the Mall.
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Maybe Mr. President is witnessing this event from his lawn. If he got rid of all the squirrels that usually reside on it…
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The Monument again. This time taken from the Tidal Basin.
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Just flying South above the Lincoln Memorial.
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And the same view from East of the Capitol. Yes, we were brave enough to go there. Well, actually it’s only when you get a little closer to the Anacostia River that Sh*t gets real. Done 3 Police Ride Alongs in that district on the other side of the Anacostia River…COPS and Hollywood is no exaggeration at all!
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The Discovery on Final to Dulles. Just behind us is the Udvar Hazy-Center. The new home for this magnificent piece of engineering.
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Over the numbers. Like the real flight we’re landing on 01R.
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And rolling out. Soon the Shuttle will be taken off the 747’s back and enter the last phase of its retirement: Being admired by millions of people each year.
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Thanks for reading today’s special report. I really felt like doing this after seeing all the wonderful pictures from the last flight yesterday. Hope you enjoyed this, even if it was a little different than usual.

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