Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The end of an Era: Discovery Space Shuttle

Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early (read 9am) with a mix of both excited and sad butterflies in my stomach. I was heading over to Regan National Airport for a unique morning of plane spotting. ShuttleDiscovery-10ShuttleDiscovery-11ShuttleDiscovery-13ShuttleDiscovery-14

Yup, you saw correctly. That is the Space Shuttle Discovery taking it’s last journey via piggy-back on a Boeing 747, and yes, these are all my own photos. Now, unless you were totally asleep for the last two days, this is old news. It has been all over the news, radio, and internet that this final flight was going to take place, and fly a few “victory laps” around the DC Capital area.

The only difference is, not all of you actually live here. So the idea or ability to get over to bare witness might not have been a thought along your brainwaves this week. However, I DO live here, and I HAVE followed the space program my whole life! Holy crap, I better get a good spot! What if I miss it? Will we be able to see it? How fast and low will a 747 be able to fly  with a space shuttle on top? How low will an airplane be allowed to fly around the Capital Buildings?? Ahhhh!

Have no fear. I outsmarted the best of them! While Gravely Point (the park at the end of the runway at Regan National) was completely packed, I ventured into the Airport itself! No one ever said that the airport parking garage was only for people taking a flight! I drove up to the top level and hung out for a while! Okay, there were a few others who showed up as well.IMG_8047

What was interesting was that not only were people showing up on the top deck of the parking garage, but people were popping out of all sorts of roof tops and high up places!

TSA on top of the DCA’s roof top:IMG_9904

Airport Tower workers (as if they didn’t already have prime viewing!)IMG_9905

And the roof tops all along Crystal City were peppered with anxious observers.IMG_9906

As I sat along the ledge of the parking garage awaiting the arrival of the Discovery Shuttle, I thought way back to my first experience with the space program. I was really young and we were on a trip visiting Cape Canaveral.  PD_0005

I’m the one who is second from the end on the right. Next to the girl with her arms crossed and pouting. I guess my sister was not as excited as I was about the space module! I honestly did believe that I was going to be an Astronaut one day. After all, I did have the same name as the famous Canadian female Astronaut, Roberta Bondar!

Then more recently (May, 2010), The Boss and I flew down with friends to Cape Canaveral to see one of the last shuttle launches. It was to say the least, one of the most impactful experiences of my life. I had always watched the launches when they were available on TV, but being there in person, sitting in a crowd of hundreds, feeling the rumble of the launch in your chest from over 11 miles away, and listening to the wild and proud cheers, that was a moment to remember.

IMG_7366-1(Picture courtesy of DCRainmaker; aka The Boss)

So back to yesterday. Now you might have a better idea of why I was a little sad to go say farewell to Discovery. The crowd cheered loudly as Discovery took those last few “victory laps” and paid tribute to the incredible explorations the shuttle took. But the murmur in the crowd that soon took over after the shuttle was out of sight, was a sure indication of the disappointment in the decision to phase out iconic American Space Program.

This was the first spotting of the entourage from when I was sitting.ShuttleDiscovery-9

We couldn’t believe how low and close the shuttle came! ANNND that the clouds broke for just those few minutes!


The next time the shuttle came back we all noticed it had some company!ShuttleDiscovery-20

I hoped so badly that this photo would have come out better, but it will have to do. The Shuttle Discovery on it’s last voyage, circling the National Monument.ShuttleDiscovery

So long Discovery. photo

Did you catch a glimpse of the shuttle yesterday? Get any good photos? I would love to hear about it!


Jake said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great pictures! Thanks for sharing.

Jake said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great pictures! Thanks for sharing.

Angela said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

One thing on my bucket list is to see a shuttle launch. When the space program was cut i realized i will probably never be able to cross this off. I was so disappointed. When i heard it was coming to dc i was determined to make it happen. I cancled all the plans i made for the girls i nanny for. I was planning on taking them to gravelly point, but as i was driving up the parkway into old town i noticed all the little parks along the river were jam packed. I decided to stop in old town.parking was impossible but we made it to the park just in time. The shuttle flew by us twice. It was so cool to see. I was sad when it was all over though.

Maggs said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Love the pictures. I saw the Space Shuttle take off back in 1991. Still one of my favorite memories. I was also at Edwards one day when it came in piggy backed on a 747. Even though I've seen/flow in a lot of 747s, never really thought about how big they were to be able to ferry the space shuttle.

Molly said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Very cool photos! I had a ton of friends that must've all been down there because they posted pix too! I used to live right near that airport so it's fun to see the area again.

Alisha said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great pictures. I saw the shuttle while I was driving and stopped in the middle of the street to stick my head out the window for a better look. I wanted to yell out at everyone to "look at that" but there was no one around. It was really cool to see it on the news and then see it fly over my neighborhood. :)

Bobbie said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates


Molly, I had no idea that you used to live here! Do you ever come back to visit??

Jirnsum said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Awesome pictures. Indeed a sad moment. I guess this means I will have to revisit the National Air and Space Museum next time I'm in the area

car parking adelaide airport said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I maybe a bit too sentimental but the mere view of that 747 carrying the Discovery brought tears down my eyes. It's like closing a chapter in man's quest for higher knowledge just because the pocket could no longer afford. So sad yet so powerfully moving.

AF5ive said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I know this is a little old, but great story and your pictures are awesome.

David Stark said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I am glad that I discovered your post while scanning for educational posts. It is truly instructive and nature of the substance is unprecedented. Cape Canaveral Shuttle

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