"It's good to see her one more time, and it's great that Discovery is going to a good home. Hopefully, millions of people for many, many years to come will go see Discovery," said Steven Lindsey, the last astronaut to command Discovery. "It's also sad ... it's sad to see that the program is over."
NASA ended the shuttle program last summer after 30 years to focus on destinations beyond low-Earth orbit. Lindsey, no longer with NASA, now works in the commercial space industry, helping to develop a successor for launching American astronauts to the International Space Station.
Stephanie Stilson, a NASA manager who is heading up the transition and retirement of the three remainingshuttles, said Discovery looked as though it had just arrived from a ferry trip from the backup landing site in California, as it did so many times in years past.
"To see her like this is quite an amazing sight," Stilson said. "We're finally here" almost an exact year since Discovery launched and landed for good, she noted.
Discovery's list of achievements include delivering the Hubble Space Telescope to orbit, carrying the first Russian cosmonaut to launch on a U.S. spaceship, performing the first rendezvous with the Russian spacestation Mir with the first female shuttle pilot in the cockpit, returning Mercury astronaut John Glenn to orbit, and bringing shuttle flights back to life after the Challenger and Columbia accidents.
A white tail cone covers the three replica main engines at the back end of Discovery, to keep them safe during the ferry flight and provide for better aerodynamics. (Only the nozzles are there, no massive power assemblies.)