April 17th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Capturing Discovery's final flight

Astronauts and CNN iReporters alike describe space shuttle Discovery's last flight as "bittersweet."

When Discovery touched down at Dulles International Airport near Washington on Tuesday, it marked the end of the shuttle program - and the end of an era.

To commemorate the shuttle's final flight, CNN teamed up with NASA and the Smithsonian to collect images from people who spotted the shuttle on its journey, atop a specially modified 747, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be transferred into the Smithsonian's collection at a public ceremony on April 19 at the museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

Check out the most stunning images of Discovery's journey in the gallery above, and visit our Open Story to see more submissions on a map and submit your own.

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Filed under: iReport • On Earth
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Luisa

    Wonderful photos. I would like to again enjoy the spacewalks

    April 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  2. intothemoonbeam

    My dream is one day we will be reading a similar article except it will be the final flight of the ship first used to first take humans to Mars.

    April 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  3. pdtfin

    One of the most complicated pieces of machinery ever built. We may never see another like them. I grew up with a cutaway schematic of the shuttle on my bedroom wall. I do hope to see new and improved space travel, though it will be through the public commercial sector's efforts. It is indeed sad to see them retired, but a far far better fate for them than their 2 sister ships and the crews on them, RIP.
    Rest well old friends.

    April 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  4. Not a Scholar

    SST Discovery – Mission accomplished. Thank you for all you have done and all the astronauts you carried to space and brought home safe. Enjoy your retirement and share you story with all that come to visit you in your new home. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. From an admirer.

    April 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Bianca

      Well said. thank you.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  5. Norm

    I don't think anything demonstrates the decline of America more than seeing our dreams of the final frontier, and all the promise of technology relegated to a museum. As a child in the 60's I thought cancer would be cured by now, wars, hunger and racism would be a thing of the past, and we would all look forward to the future. Now no one looks forward to the future, everyone wants to back to the past, and hatred is worse than ever. I don't just blame Obama, or Bush, or even corporate America (maybe a little). I blame Vern (and his ilk).

    April 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Not a Scholar

      You kids will say the same thing when they are you age, as did your parents when they were at the age you are now. Stop looking down and start finding a way up. If you think we have it bad move to Iraq or Mexico or Indonesia. You will appreciate the great life you have.

      April 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
      • Norm

        You missed the point. I never said it was better to live somewhere else, just that we have much more potential that is going unrealized. Go move to Iraq or Mexico? Are you 8 years old? Haven't heard a line like that in 40 years. Your expectations are far too low.

        April 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • jmsbois

      the end of one era, the beginning of another. NASA is working on deep space now, it's actually time to get past near earth orbit and really venture out into the cosmos. One door closes, another opens – I don't see this as a mark of decline, but of a new beginning.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  6. proudamerican

    Vern, where's your sense of patriotism? It's nice to see an American icon get the recognition it deserves. We need to see more of things like this.

    April 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  7. helee

    So sad and nostalgic. I'm an old person who remembers when we landed on the moon. We all had such dreams and idealism back then. I look for it now in this country and can't find it Those qualities will probably come back, but from a direction I can't even imagine. I hope my grandchildren have a chance at them.

    April 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • intothemoonbeam

      I agree with you after the Apollo missions the government started taking away funding from NASA. If NASA was funded now like it was in the 60's (NASA was almost 5% of the budget in the 60's, it's only 0.5% now) we probably would have already sent humans to Mars and might be on our way to Europa or Callisto by now.

      April 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  8. cominatcha

    *envious of the two workers atop the scaffolding*

    April 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • rachelcnn

      Good eye – I didn't even see that!

      April 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Not a Scholar

      I used to stand atop Launch Complex 36 in Shuttle launch days. I know the feeling. But it was more fun to go out and hang with the tourists and share some of the knowledge and experience of working on the launch facilities. But I did notice the workers on the scaffold and thought what an amazing view to tell people about later.

      April 17, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  9. Vern

    Who's paying the bill for the fuel burn on a 747 at 10,000' and all the fly-by's

    April 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Sheesh

      We all are, Vern. Now stop whining and enjoy the show.

      April 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
      • mrspansas

        Well said....

        April 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Visionary

      Who is paying for your unemployment checks? Do you have anything uplifting or positive to say at all?

      April 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • americanflag

      STFU Vern!

      April 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
      • Golden Record


        April 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Kaitlyn

      You know what, Vern? I'm very proud to be an American. Therefore, I'm very, very proud that my tax dollars are helping pay for that final flight! I helped build it. I can help pay for taking it "home". Sorry you feel like you do. Bet there are no American flags flying proudly at your house.

      April 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • DELE


      April 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • intothemoonbeam

      NASA is only a half a penny on the tax dollar Vern, so you aren't hardly paying anything. Quit complaining.

      April 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Stubster

      Vern... You sound like the typical LOOOOOOOOSER! Get with the program. You know what they say " if you don't want to be part of the solution, get out of the way!" Thank you Sheesh, Visionary, Kaitlyn, Americanflag,DELE,goldenrecord

      April 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • jmsbois

      Wow, what a bitter grouch. I paid for a bit of it...glad to do it, too!

      April 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  10. Charlie

    As an Air Force officer back in the early 90's I had the honor and pleasure of building, testing, installing, and managing the flight operations of an experiment that was flown in the cargo bay of Discovery. I have many fond memories of working in the payload and orbiter processing facilities, on the pad prior to launch, and at Houston during flight operations. I also had the opportunity to work with the astronauts supporting our mission. I'm saddened to see this wonderful spacecraft no longer flying – relegated to the museum floor.

    April 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |


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