NASA marked the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch and the 50th anniversary of the first human in space — Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961 — by naming the final destinations of its retiring space shuttle fleet.
Discovery, the shuttle that flew the most missions at 39, including carrying the Hubble telescope into space, is headed for the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
Atlantis, whose history includes flying the first mission to dock with the Russian space station Mir, is destined for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
Endeavour, which Congress authorized as a replacement for Challenger, will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
And the space shuttle prototype Enterprise, which never flew in space but was used to test different aspects of the shuttle program, will be delivered to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.
Think you know the shuttles? Take our quick quiz:
#1. Atlantis took half the time to build than Columbia, the first shuttle. Why did it take so much less time?
#2. What was Discovery’s namesake?
A) The ship Henry Hudson used to explore Hudson Bay and search for the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean
B) The ship in which British explorer James Cook sailed the South Pacific and discovered the Hawaiian Islands
C) The vessels the British Royal Geographic Society used to explore the North Pole and Antarctica
D) All of the above
#3. Endeavour received some major upgrades over its operational life. What was one of the most significant?
#4. Where is Enterprise now?
Read the answers here:
Answer to #1: In addition to the lessons NASA learned from building previous shuttles, Atlantis was equipped with thermal protective blankets on the upper body, rather than individual tiles that required more attention.
Answer to #2.: D) All of the above. It’s a tradition to name the shuttles after seafaring research vessels, and Discovery has the longest list. Enterprise was the only shuttle named after a starship (from the television show Star Trek).
Answer to #3: Endeavour was the first shuttle to use a 40-foot-wide drag chute to help slow the orbiter during landing. Endeavour will use this landing device again at the close of its next mission, scheduled for liftoff on April 29 at 3:47 p.m.
Answer to #4: Enterprise currently resides at the Udvar-Hazy Center but will be moved to make way for Discovery.
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