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 previous ships of exploration named Discovery, primarily HMS Discovery, the sailing ship that accompanied famous explorer James Cook on his third and final major voyage. Others include Henry Hudson's ship Discovery which he used in 1610–1611 to search for a Northwest Passage, and RRS Discovery, a vessel used for expeditions to Antarctica in 1901-1904 by Scott and Shackleton (and still preserved as a museum). The shuttle shares a name with Discovery One, the fictional Jupiter spaceship from the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010.
Discovery was the shuttle that launched the Hubble Space Telescope. The second and third Hubble service missions were also conducted by Discovery. She 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 STS-62-A planned missions from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1986 for the United States Department of Defense gone ahead, Discovery would have flown those missions.
Discovery has flown 35 flights, completed 4,888 orbits, and flown 117,433,618 miles (195,938,294 km) in total. Discovery is the orbiter fleet leader, having flown more flights than any other orbiter in the fleet, including four in 1985 alone.
- 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-121: First Shuttle launch on the 4th of July Holiday, Return to Flight mission.
- STS-116: First night time launch of a shuttle since the Columbia disaster. Last Shuttle launch from LC-39B
- STS-120: Longest mission so far for this space shuttle.
|#||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) Rafaello.|| 13 days, 21 hours,|
33 minutes, 00 seconds
|32||2006 July 4||STS-121||ISS Flight ULF1.1, ISS supply delivery/crew rotation, Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Leonardo|| 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. The day before expected landing, the crew answered questions from many students including Crista Nishimoto of Stevenson Middle School who asked the question at the space downlink at Punahou School.
| 12 days, 19 hours,|
29 minutes, 33 seconds
|37||2009 August 6+||STS-128||Planned International Space Station crew rotation and expansion of Expedition crews from 3 to 6 by the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module.|
|38||2010 April 8+||STS-132||Planned International Space Station assembly of Russian Mini-Research Module 1.|
|39||2010 September 16+||STS-134||Planned International Space Station delivery of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Final mission for Discovery and last flight of the Space Shuttle program.|
‡ Longest shuttle mission for Discovery
+ Targeted date as mission has yet to launch
* No Earlier Than (Tentative)
According to the current schedule, Space Shuttle Discovery will be decommissioned in 2010.Discovery will be the last space shuttle to fly on mission STS-134. NASA expects to launch the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle on the new Ares I rocket by 2014.
NASA has offered Space Shuttle 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.