It’s the end of an era for NASA’s space shuttle program: The shuttle Discovery, the oldest of the shuttles, completed its final mission Wednesday, landing at Cape Canaveral, Florida to the cheers of journalists, space enthusiasts, and schoolchilden. Discovery flew for 27 years, completing 39 missions, 148 million miles, 5,830 orbits of Earth, and 365 days in space. It was the most-flown spaceship in history, and got the shuttle program going again after the tragic crashes of Challenger and Columbia. Now, Discovery will make the 750-mile trip to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. on the back of a jetliner. After the two remaining shuttles, Endeavor and Atlantis, make their final flights this summer, NASA astronauts will hitch rides to the International Space Station on Russian craft until private companies can complete missions of their own.
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