(OT) Discovery over DC


Just saw three passes of the shuttle Discovery and its host 747 flying over DC on its way to the Smithsonian museum at Dulles. A whole herd of us engineers watched from the Navy Yard parking garage roof and it was quite a sight - one that won't be repeated, ever.

Whatever one may think of the shuttle program, the engineering is just amazing. I wonder how many HP calculators were used in the process?

Stirring sight.


I was living in Florida during the early to mid 80's. For STS-6 i got the day off to take a tour to watch the launch from Kennedy space center. I was living in Orlando at the time. It was really impressive to be up close and feel all that power. Still have my fuzzy polaroids from that day. Also if my memory hasn't totally let me down while walking to lunch one day we saw another launch possibly STS-7. For a sci-fi book fan it was really cool to be living in the vicinity of a launch facility. Later on i moved to Jacksonville where on occasion i would get to step outside and watch the shuttle make that huge smoke trail into space. Unfotunately that also meant i watched the Challenger blow up too. It was so cold that morning we had to evacuate work because the fire sprinkler system had burst. Will there be anything else from NASA that causes the country to pause from it's daily routine to watch on tv or take a trip to see it launch? I don't know but it makes me long for the "good ol' days".


I was going to FIT at that time and those of us in the astronomy club went up to the cape to see STS-6. I think I have some blurry disc camera shots of the launch. Solidified my interest in great engineering.


I saw on the news this morning that the DC over-flight was planned for today. You are lucky indeed to have seen it!

Of course it is AN OUTRAGE that one of the orbiters (or at least the Enterprise) was not assigned to go to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Reportedly, there was a "scoring error, which if corrected would have placed the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in a tie with the Intrepid Museum and Kennedy Visitor Complex." I will be the first to admit that the Kennedy Visitor Complex should have one, but...
(The above is mostly tongue in cheek and has nothing to do with the fact that the USAF Museum is relatively close to me. With only three orbiters and the Enterprise to go around, a lot of potential locations were bound to lose out.)

As for the future of the US Space program, I recently saw Dr. Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson on TV (on The Colbert Report, I believe) where he proposed that if we increased NASA’s budget from its current ½ cent per dollar of the US budget to a full penny, we could do a whole lot of great things, like going back to the moon, establishing a base on the moon, going to Mars, etc. I, for one, would be happy to have my taxes increased by 0.5% to pay for that. But unfortunately, that's probably not going to happen.

Edited: 19 Apr 2012, 5:28 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


It's been 40 years since a human being left near Earth orbit, and the US is the largest debtor nation in history. NASA is never going to get additional funding for manned space flight, ever. Very sad situation.


My daughter didn't submit an application for the last astronaut class because she doesn't want to ride on Russian hardware. If that isn't bad enough, there are more than a few places in the world where the moonwalks are viewed as American propaganda, made in Hollywood.


A person-size large poster of the space shuttle has been on my kid's room door for the last fifteen years. I remember I picked it up (for free) in NYC back in 1986, from a bookshop - they were going to throw it away!.

He just turned 18 and he's fluent with all 21st-century gizmos and social networks, but ... still wants to keep it there. :-)



Whatever one may think of the shuttle program, the engineering is just amazing.

Yes, definitely. The Space Shuttle was and is one of the wonders of the (modern) world. No thermal engine built by humans will ever come as close to the optimum theoretical thermodynamic efficiency again as the SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engine). I would have given an arm, a leg and an eye to fly on one. Not in this life...

I have a roll of Super-8 film (anybody remembers that?) somewhere that I took at the Paris Air Show in 1983 where they displayed the Space Shuttle Enterprise on top of the 747. They were bold enough to do touch-and-go landings with it! That was all the motivation that I needed to go ahead with my aerospace studies at university then.

They should not have killed the program, it will never be replaced. Within ten years from now human spaceflight will be history.



Stirring sight.


More pictures!

Edited: 17 Apr 2012, 6:14 p.m.


I have been fortunate enough to see two launches and two landings.

For me, the landing I saw at Rogers dry lake bed near Mojave California was the most exciting. Yes, the sheer power of the launch is awe inspiring but there was much more drama to the landing.

My friend Bill and I had flown to Florida for the launch of STS2 and
watched it launch from a causeway from outside Titusville about 12 miles from the launch pad.

We then flew across the country and watched it land! There were an
estimated 250,000 to 400,000 people there to see the landing. This was quite impressive since the Shuttle flight had been cut short and you needed a ticket to get onto the viewing site.

The landing was expected for about 1:30 in the afternoon. Sometime
before the expected landing time, a pair of T-33 (???) jet fighter
planes flew over. These were used to check for clear skies and weather conditions, I think. We figured that if we just watched them we could see where the Shuttle would be coming from. Well, these planes flew over and then disappeared over the horizon and never came back into view.

While scanning the skies trying to spot the Shuttle, I noticed that more and more of the crowd was looking the same direction. When I looked that direction, I could see the vapor trail from the Shuttle. A short time later, there was a double sonic boom and the crowd let out a cheer -- very emotional.

The Shuttle then did a 270 degree turn and landed about 2 miles from us.

-- Richard

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