Space Shuttle Discovery

Welcome back!

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful weekend and Holiday break (U.S.). Things have been mad-crazy for me lately but it’s all good. 

Now that we have had our unofficial launch of the Summer season the social and business calendars have picked up in pace. There are a couple of new commercial photography gigs on the horizon that I am really looking forward to.

Today’s image comes via the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, also known as the Air and Space Museum where the Space Shuttle Discovery has landed and found it’s final home. This awesome machine has a special place in my heart since it was THE shuttle that returned us to flight after the Challenger accident and also launched the Hubble Space Telescope, a project I was a part of for 17 years.

Needless to say, seeing and photographing this was a top priority for my first visit.

In January of 1986 when the Challenger accident occurred I had just been hired and given a start date. I expected to get a letter or phone call telling me that my services would not be needed after-all but I received neither and reported as scheduled. There was much uncertainty during the months following that disastrous day with many speculating that the shuttle fleet would be grounded permanently.

The launch of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) saw many delays and we had quite a few "Annual 1-year to launch parties", but in April of 1990 we gathered around TV sets and monitors, held our collective breaths and saw a successful launch (STS-31). It was a time of high-emotion after all that the program had gone through. Some of those emotions returned when I saw this historic spacecraft standing so proudly in the Air and Space Museum.

A massive machine like this is a challenge to fit into a frame within the constrained confines of the museum, should have had a 14mm with me, but I tried to make the best of the situation with the shot above and the wider shot taken below.

At the nose of the spacecraft there are several people standing and providing some scale to this image. You can also get a sense of how large this aviation hangar is as well.

I was glad to see that Discovery had not undergone a complete refurbishment which would have removed the faded areas of the fuselage and other indications that this big bird had seen it's share of stressful flights.

Not evident in these images are the marks on the thermal tiles obtained from the 3000-degree F heat generated during re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. Without showing the results of the stresses of space flight, I think this display would look too sterile and perhaps a little artificial.

Perhaps you can see some of what I am talking about in the image below.

And so it is... after the successful launch and subsequent servicing missions to HST, my love for this magnificent spacecraft continues. I hope you enjoyed the images and look forward to some of the others I have that will be shared in the future.

Thanks so much for visiting!

See this and other flying machines in the Aviation Gallery