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Space shuttle Discovery ready for final flight -- to Smithsonian

(Xinhua)

13:51, April 17, 2012

The photo provided by NASA shows U.S. space shuttle Discovery landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the United States, March 9, 2011. (Xinhua File Photo/NASA/Bill Ingalls)

BEIJING, April 17(Xinhuanet) -- The U.S. space shuttle Discovery will fly on Tuesday morning its final mission, this time to a museum.

At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the space veteran has already been loaded on the back of a modified A-747, ready for its final trip to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum outside Washington, DC.

From its debut flight in 1984 to the latest space trip in February 2011, Discovery flew altogether 39 space missions, including the first missions after the space shuttle disasters of the Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003.

Among NASA's three surviving space shuttles, Discovery is the first to retire.

NASA announced last summer to end the space shuttle program which had been in active service beyond low-Earth orbit for 30 years.

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