Smithsonian welcomes Discovery to space collection

April 19, 2012 - 2:47 AM
Space Shuttle Discovery

In this image provided by NASA the NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with the space shuttle Discovery mated on top rolls into position for demating at Washington Dulles International Airport, Wednesday, April 17, 2012, in Sterling, VA. Discovery, the first orbiter retired from NASA’s shuttle fleet, completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles. NASA will transfer Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum to begin its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and to educate and inspire future generations of explorers. (AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls)

CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) — Space shuttle Discovery is preparing to move into its new home at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum annex in northern Virginia.

Thursday morning, the world's most traveled spaceship will be lifted off its Boeing 747 carrier and towed to the museum near Dulles International Airport. Astronauts including former Sen. John Glenn will help deliver Discovery to its retirement as an artifact representing the 30-year shuttle program.

A welcome ceremony is expected to draw thousands of visitors who want an up-close look at the shuttle after it flew over the Washington area Tuesday. The museum is hosting a four-day festival to showcase Discovery.

Curator Valerie Neal says Discovery will be displayed as if it just landed. There will be an interactive display giving visitors a look inside the shuttle.