Secured in the Orbiter Processing Facility after her successful STS-133 mission, space shuttle Discovery is prepared for decomissioning and display at the Smithsonian Institution. Underneath Discovery and looking forward from roughly amidships, the orbiter’s Thermal Protection System tiles stretch forward toward the nose landing gear.
Space shuttle Discovery soars into the Florida skies, as seen in this 180° panorama taken from Astronaut Road. The massive Vehicle Assembly Building can be seen on the right, and Launch Complex 39B on the left. Click image to view larger.
The Rotating Service Structure is rolled back from space shuttle Discovery for the final time, revealing the veteran orbiter over the course of 45 minutes for launch the next day.
[Audio clip: view full post to listen] Space shuttle Discovery, STS-133, roars into orbit, the crackling thunder of her twin Solid Rocket Boosters threatening to overwhelm the microphone.
High-powered Xenon lights illuminate space shuttle Discovery on the launch pad at LC-39A after rollback of the Rotating Service Structure, for STS-133′s first launch attempt in November of 2010.
The International Space Station, with a full complement of visiting vehicles from all participating nations including space shuttle Discovery, soars in orbit over Toronto at 7:02 P.M. This is a stacked set of eight images, the gaps in the trail are caused by the ~1 second delay between shutter actuations.
Space shuttle Discovery, STS-133, aims purposefully skyward on the launch pad immediately after rollback of the Rotating Service Structure.
Riding twin pillars of fire, veteran space shuttle Discovery embarks on her final voyage to orbit from LC-39A. After this final mission, she’ll be processed and turned over to the Smithsonian for permanent display.
Space shuttle Discovery’s SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines) stabilize after ignition in this sequence. From left to right, the rough orange flame stabilizes to form a smooth blue flow, displaying the characteristic “Mach diamonds”, formed by the supersonic flow of the engine’s exhaust.
Space shuttle Discovery, STS-133 lifts off from the launch pad for the final time. Within twenty seconds of missing her launch window and being forced to abort, she had a flawless ascent to orbit.
Two minutes after launch, space shuttle Discovery’s twin Solid Rocket Boosters burn out and separate from the orbiter, to fall back to the Atlantic ocean for retrieval.
Space shuttle Discovery, STS-133, performs her roll program after clearing the tower at Launch Complex 39A.
Consuming 20,000 pounds of propellants every second, space shuttle Discovery lights up the lagoons of the Kennedy Space Centre on the final flight of her career.
Space shuttle Discovery, STS-133, launches on the final flight of her career from LC-39A.