Space Shuttle Discovery OV-103
Space Shuttle Discovery (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-103) is one of the three currently operational orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet of NASA, the space agency of the United States. The other two are Atlantis and Endeavour. When first flown in 1984, Discovery became the third operational orbiter, and is now the oldest orbiter in service. Discovery has performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions.
The spacecraft takes its name from four British ships of exploration named Discovery, primarily HMS Discovery, one of the ships commanded by Captain James Cook during his third and final major voyage, 1776–1779. Others include Henry Hudson's Discovery, which he used in 1610–1611 to search for a Northwest Passage; the HMS Discovery, one of the ships which took Captain George Nares' British Arctic Expedition of 1875–1876 to the North Pole; and RRS Discovery, a Royal Geographical Society research vessel which, under the command of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, was the main ship of the 1901–1904 "Discovery Expedition" to Antarctica which is still preserved as a museum.
Discovery was the shuttle that launched the Hubble Space Telescope. The second and third Hubble service missions were also conducted by Discovery. It has also launched the Ulysses probe and three TDRS satellites. Discovery has been chosen twice as the return to flight orbiter, first in 1988 as the return to flight orbiter after the 1986 Challenger disaster, and then for the twin return to flight missions in July 2005 and July 2006 after the 2003 Columbia disaster. Discovery also carried Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 at the time, back into space during STS-95 on October 29, 1998, making him the oldest human being to venture into space.
Had the planned STS-62-A mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1986 for the United States Department of Defense gone ahead, Discovery would have flown it.
* January 29, 1979: Contract Award
* August 27, 1979: Start long lead fabrication of Crew Module
* June 20, 1980: Start fabrication lower fuselage
* November 10, 1980: Start structural assembly of aft-fuselage
* December 8, 1980: Start initial system installation aft fuselage
* March 2, 1981: Start fabrication/assembly of payload bay doors
* October 26, 1981: Start initial system installation, crew module, Downey
* January 4, 1982: Start initial system installation upper forward fuselage
* March 16, 1982: Midfuselage on dock, Palmdale
* March 30, 1982: Elevons on dock, Palmdale
* April 30, 1982: Wings arrive at Palmdale from Grumman
* April 30, 1982: Lower forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale
* July 16, 1982: Upper forward fuselage on dock, Palmdale
* August 5, 1982: Vertical stabilizer on dock, Palmdale
* September 3, 1982: Start of Final Assembly
* October 15, 1982: Body flap on dock, Palmdale
* January 11, 1983: Aft fuselage on dock, Palmdale
* February 25, 1983: Complete final assembly and closeout installation, Palmdale
* February 28, 1983: Start initial subsystems test, power-on, Palmdale
* May 13, 1983: Complete initial subsystems testing
* July 26, 1983: Complete subsystems testing
* August 12, 1983: Completed Final Acceptance
* October 16, 1983: Rollout from Palmdale
* November 5, 1983: Overland transport from Palmdale to Edwards
* November 9, 1983: Delivery to Kennedy Space Center
* June 2, 1984: Flight Readiness Firing
* August 30, 1984: First Flight (41-D)
Upgrades and Features
Discovery benefited from lessons learned in the construction and testing of Enterprise, Columbia and Challenger. At rollout, its weight was some 6,870 pounds less than Columbia.
Beginning in the fall of 1995, the orbiter underwent a nine-month Orbiter Maintenance Down Period (OMDP) in Palmdale California. The vehicle was outfitted with a 5th set of cryogenic tanks and an external airlock to support missions to the International Space Station. It returned to the Kennedy Space Center, riding piggy-back on a modified Boeing 747, in June 1996.
Following STS-105, Discovery became the first of the orbiter fleet to undergo Orbiter Major Modification (OMM) period at the Kennedy Space Center. Work began in September 2002, and along with the scheduled upgrades, additional safety modifications were added as part of the preparations for Return to Flight.
Discovery has flown 38 flights, completed 5,247 orbits, and has spent 322 days in orbit. Discovery is the orbiter fleet leader, having flown more flights than any other orbiter in the fleet, including four in 1985 alone. Discovery flew all three "return to flight" missions after the Challenger and Columbia disasters: STS-26 in 1988, STS-114 in 2005, and STS-121 in 2006. Discovery is scheduled to fly the second to last space shuttle mission STS-133 currently targeted to launch no earlier than (NET) Feb. 24, 2011.
* STS-41-D: First flight.
* STS-51-D: Carried first sitting United States Member of Congress into space, Senator Jake Garn (R–UT).
* STS-26: Return to space after Challenger disaster (STS-51-L).
* STS-31: Launch of Hubble Space Telescope.
* STS-60: First Russian launched in an American spacecraft (Sergei Krikalev).
* STS-95: Second flight of John Glenn, oldest man in space and third sitting Member of Congress to enter space.
* STS-92: The 100th Space Shuttle Mission.
* STS-114: Return to space after Columbia disaster (STS-107).
* STS-116: First night time launch of a shuttle since the Columbia disaster. Last Shuttle launch from LC-39B
* STS-131: Longest mission for this orbiter.
 Flights listing
# Date Designation Notes Length of journey
1 1984 August 30 STS-41-D First Discovery mission: Launched two communications satellites, including LEASAT F2. 6 days, 00 hours,
56 minutes, 04 seconds
2 1984 November 8 STS-51-A Launched two and rescued two communications satellites including LEASAT F1. 7 days, 23 hours,
44 minutes, 56 seconds
3 1985 January 24 STS-51-C Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite. 3 days, 01 hours,
33 minutes, 23 seconds-
4 1985 April 12 STS-51-D Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F3. 6 days, 23 hours,
55 minutes, 23 seconds
5 1985 June 17 STS-51-G Launched two communications satellites, Sultan Salman al-Saud becomes first Saudi Arabian in space. 7 days, 01 hours,
38 minutes, 52 seconds
6 1985 August 27 STS-51-I Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F4. Recovered, repaired, and redeployed LEASAT F3. 7 days, 02 hours,
17 minutes, 42 seconds
7 1988 September 29 STS-26 Return to flight after Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, launched TDRS. 4 days, 01 hours,
00 minutes, 11 seconds
8 1989 March 13 STS-29 Launched TDRS. 4 days, 23 hours,
38 minutes, 52 seconds
9 1989 November 22 STS-33 Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite. 5 days, 00 hours,
06 minutes, 49 seconds
10 1990 April 24 STS-31 Launch of Hubble Space Telescope (HST). 5 days, 01 hours,
16 minutes, 06 seconds
11 1990 October 6 STS-41 Launch of Ulysses. 4 days, 02 hours,
10 minutes, 04 seconds
12 1991 April 28 STS-39 Launched DOD Air Force Program-675 (AFP675) satellite. 8 days, 07 hours,
22 minutes, 23 seconds
13 1991 September 12 STS-48 Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS). 5 days, 08 hours,
27 minutes, 38 seconds
14 1992 January 22 STS-42 International Microgravity Laboratory-1 (IML-1). 8 days, 01 hours,
14 minutes, 44 seconds
15 1992 December 2 STS-53 Department of Defense payload. 7 days, 07 hours,
19 minutes, 47 seconds
16 1993 April 8 STS-56 Atmospheric Laboratory (ATLAS-2). 9 days, 06 hours,
08 minutes, 24 seconds
17 1993 September 12 STS-51 Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS). 9 days, 20 hours,
11 minutes, 11 seconds
18 1994 February 3 STS-60 Wake Shield Facility (WSF). 7 days, 06 hours,
08 minutes, 36 seconds
19 1994 September 9 STS-64 LIDAR In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE). 10 days, 22 hours,
49 minutes, 57 seconds
20 1995 February 3 STS-63 Rendezvous with Mir space station. 8 days, 06 hours,
29 minutes, 36 seconds
21 1995 July 13 STS-70 7th Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). 8 days, 22 hours,
20 minutes, 05 seconds
22 1997 February 11 STS-82 Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (HSM-2). 9 days, 23 hours,
38 minutes, 09 seconds
23 1997 August 7 STS-85 Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes. 11 days, 20 hours,
28 minutes, 07 seconds
24 1998 June 2 STS-91 Final Shuttle/Mir Docking Mission. 9 days, 19 hours,
55 minutes, 01 seconds
25 1998 October 29 STS-95 SPACEHAB, second flight of John Glenn, Pedro Duque becomes first Spaniard in space. 8 days, 21 hours,
44 minutes, 56 seconds
26 1999 May 27 STS-96 Resupply mission for the International Space Station. 9 days, 19 hours,
13 minutes, 57 seconds
27 1999 December 19 STS-103 Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST) (HSM-3A). 7 days, 23 hours,
11 minutes, 34 seconds
28 2000 October 11 STS-92 International Space Station Assembly Flight (carried and assembled the Z1 truss); 100th Shuttle mission. 12 days, 21 hours,
43 minutes, 47 seconds
29 2001 March 8 STS-102 International Space Station crew rotation flight (Expedition 1 and Expedition 2) 12 days, 19 hours,
51 minutes, 57 seconds
30 2001 August 10 STS-105 International Space Station crew and supplies delivery (Expedition 2 and Expedition 3) 11 days 21 hours,
13 minutes, 52 seconds
31 2005 July 26 STS-114 Return to flight since Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; International Space Station (ISS) supplies delivery, new safety procedures testing and evaluation, Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello. 13 days, 21 hours,
33 minutes, 00 seconds
32 2006 July 4 STS-121 Second return to flight since Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; International Space Station (ISS) supplies delivery, test new safety and repair techniques. 12 days, 18 hours,
37 minutes, 54 seconds
33 2006 December 9 STS-116 ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the P5 truss segment); Last flight to launch on pad 39-B;
First night launch since Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. 12 days, 20 hours,
44 minutes, 16 seconds
34 2007 October 23 STS-120 ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the Harmony module). 15 days, 02 hours,
23 minutes, 55 seconds
35 2008 May 31 STS-124 ISS crew rotation and assembly (carries and assembles the Kibō JEM PM module). 13 days, 18 hours,
13 minutes, 07 seconds
36 2009 March 15 STS-119 International Space Station crew rotation and assembly of a fourth
starboard truss segment (ITS S6) and a fourth set of solar arrays and batteries. Also replaced a failed unit for a system that converts urine to drinking water. 12 days, 19 hours,
29 minutes, 33 seconds
37 2009 August 28 STS-128 International Space Station crew rotation and ISS resupply using the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Also carried the C.O.L.B.E.R.T treadmill named after Stephen Colbert 13 days 20 hours, 54 minutes, 40 seconds
38 2010 April 5 STS-131 ISS resupply using the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. The mission also marked the 1st time that 4 women were in space & the 1st time that 2 Japanese astronauts were together in space. 15 days 2 hours, 47 minutes,
39 2011 February 24 STS-133 The mission, currently set for launch at 4:50 p.m. EST on February 24th, will carry the Pressurized Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo and the ELC-4 to the ISS. Final mission for Discovery and is no longer last scheduled flight of the Space Shuttle Program. 11 days (Planned)
According to the current schedule, Discovery will be decommissioned in 2011. Discovery will be the third from last space shuttle to fly when it is launched on the STS-133 mission.
NASA has offered Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum for public display and preservation as part of the national collection after the orbiter has been retired. Discovery will replace Space Shuttle Enterprise in the Smithsonian's display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Cente