The space shuttle Discovery soars over the National Mall on Tuesday mounted on the back of a modified 747, as seen from a NASA T-38 airplane that was escorting the spacecraft.
After a last, low flyby of Washington, D.C., which drew thousands of onlookers, Discovery landed at Dulles International Airport in Virginia—not far from its new home at the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. (See more pictures of the space shuttle soaring over D.C.)
Today NASA and Smithsonian officials gathered at the Air and Space Museum annex to welcome the iconic space shuttle into the museum's permanent collection. Accompanied by astronauts and shuttle service workers, Discovery rolled down a runway to meet nose-to-nose with Enterprise, the test orbiter that until this morning was housed in the museum. (See "Space Shuttle Discovery Arrives to Take 'Place of Honor.'")
"The space shuttles showed us that Earth orbit could be an extension of our human biosphere, a place where we could live and work," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden—a former astronaut who flew twice aboard Discovery—told the thousands gathered for the welcome ceremony.
"Today we turn Discovery over to the Smithsonian with great expectations that, as we have always done, NASA will continue to inspire the next generation to explore. This vehicle will be a ... tangible example that our dreams of exploration ... are always within our grasp if we reach for them."
(Also see the inside of the space shuttle Discovery in extreme detail.)