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Space Shuttle Discovery Will Fly Over D.C. On Way To Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center (PHOTOS)

Posted: 04/16/2012 3:50 pm Updated: 04/16/2012 6:39 pm

On its last flight, Discovery moves away from the International Space Station after the two spacecraft undocked.

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, be sure to look up for a rare and wonderful air show.

The Space Shuttle Discovery is expected to fly over landmarks in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The shuttle, which will ride atop a modified jumbo jet, will be en route from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Discovery's new home at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport.

Space Shuttle Discovery
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Space Shuttle Discovery, mounted atop a 747 shuttle carrier aircraft, flies over the U.S. Capitol during a flyover of the nation's capital on its final trip to its retirement place April 17, 2012, in Washington, D.C. The longest-serving orbiter in the space shuttle fleet was flown from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Washington, DC area to be transferred to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and will be placed on display in the museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

NASA hasn't disclosed the shuttle's exact route, but the agency says that it is expected to fly near the National Mall, the Southwest Waterfront, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the Old Town Alexandria waterfront, and the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center, before landing at Dulles Airport around 11 a.m.

Discovery will be riding about 1,500 feet in the air. The space shuttle and jumbo jet together will weigh just shy of 700,000 pounds at takeoff.

The shuttle, first launched on August 30, 1984, flew 39 missions during its career, traveling 148,221,675 miles and spending a total of one full year in space.

It's been a historic career. The shuttle launched the Hubble Telescope in 1990, flew the first female shuttle pilot, Eileen Collins, in 1995 and made 13 trips to the International Space Station.

In 1998, Discovery brought then-U.S. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) back into space -- Glenn, who in 1962 was the first American to orbit the Earth, became the oldest person to fly in space during his 1998 mission.

Discovery's last mission, which ended on July 21, 2011, brought the first humanoid robot -- the oddly lifelike Robonaut 2 -- into space. Discovery has seen space for the last time, but R2, as the robot is known, is still living at the International Space Station.

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Filed by Arin Greenwood  |