NASA transfers space shuttle to National Air and Space Museum

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NASA transferred space shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum during a ceremony Thursday at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly.

“Today, while we look back at Discovery’s amazing legacy, I also want to look forward to what she and the shuttle fleet helped to make possible,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.

“As NASA transfers the shuttle orbiters to museums across the country, we are embarked on an exciting new space exploration journey. Relying on American ingenuity and know-how, NASA is partnering with private industry to provide crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station, while developing the most powerful rocket ever built to take the nation farther than ever before into the solar system,” he said.

NASA is retiring the space shuttle fleet as it shifts responsibility for low Earth-orbit flights to the space station by commercial companies.

The strategy is intended to allow NASA to focus on sending astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s.

The space station, staffed with an international crew of six,  is testing exploration technologies such as autonomous spacecraft refueling, advanced life support systems and human/robotic interfaces.
At the Chantilly museum site, Discovery replaced the prototype shuttle Enterprise had been on display for nearly 10 years.

The other vehicles in the space shuttle fleet, Atlantis and Endeavor, will be featured at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center in Florida and the California Science Center, respectively.

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