Juno is a NASA space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter. It was built by Lockheed Martin and is operated by NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, after completing its mission, Juno will be intentionally deorbited into Jupiters atmosphere. Junos mission is to measure Jupiters composition, gravity field, magnetic field, Juno is the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, after the nuclear powered Galileo orbiter, which orbited from 1995 to 2003. For Juno, the three largest solar array wings ever deployed on a planetary probe play an role in stabilizing the spacecraft as well as generating power. The mission had previously referred to by the backronym Jupiter Near-polar Orbiter. Juno is sometimes called New Frontiers 2 as the mission in the New Frontiers program, but is not to be confused with New Horizons 2. Juno was selected in 2005 as the next New Frontiers mission after New Horizons, the desire for Jupiter was strong in the years prior to this, but there had not been any approved missions. The flagship-level Europa Jupiter System Mission was in the works in the early 2000s, Juno completed a five-year cruise to Jupiter, arriving on July 5,2016.
The spacecraft traveled a distance of roughly 2.8 billion kilometers to reach Jupiter. The spacecraft was designed to orbit Jupiter 37 times over the course of its mission and this was originally planned to take 20 months. Junos trajectory used a gravity assist speed boost from Earth, accomplished by an Earth flyby in October 2013, the spacecraft performed an orbit insertion burn to slow it enough to allow capture. It was expected to make three 53-day orbits before performing another burn on December 11 that would bring it into a 14-day polar orbit called the Science Orbit. Due to an issue in the main engine, the December 11 burn was cancelled. During the science mission and microwave instruments will measure the radiation emanating from deep within Jupiters atmosphere. These observations will complement previous studies of its composition by assessing the abundance and distribution of water and this data will provide insight into Jupiters origins. Juno will investigate the convection that drives natural circulation patterns in Jupiters atmosphere, other instruments aboard Juno will gather data about its gravitational field and polar magnetosphere.
The Juno mission was planned to conclude in February 2018, after completing 37 orbits of Jupiter, the probe was intended to be de-orbited and burn up in Jupiters outer atmosphere, to avoid any possibility of impact and biological contamination of one of its moons. Juno was launched atop the Atlas V at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the Atlas V used a Russian-designed and -built RD-180 main engine, powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen
STS-34 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission using Atlantis. It was the 31st shuttle mission overall, and the flight for Atlantis. STS-34 launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 18 October 1989, during the mission, the Jupiter-bound Galileo probe was deployed into space. Atlantis lifted off from Pad B, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center and it carried the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft in its cargo bay. The countdown was delayed at T-minus 5 minutes for 3 minutes and 40 seconds to update the computer for a change in the Transoceanic Abort Landing site. The TAL site was changed from Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco, to Zaragoza Air Base, the launch was originally targeted for 12 October 1989, the first day of a 41-day launch period during which the planets were properly aligned for a direct flight to Jupiter. The liftoff was rescheduled for 17 October 1989 to replace a faulty main engine controller for Space Shuttle Main Engine No.2 and it was postponed again until 18 October 1989 because of rain-showers within 20 miles of Kennedy Space Centers Shuttle Landing Facility.
The weather conditions were in violation of the launch criteria for a Return To Launch Site landing in the event of an aborted flight. The primary payload, the Galileo spacecraft with its attached Inertial Upper Stage, was deployed on its journey to Jupiter. STS-34 was only the shuttle flight to deploy a planetary spacecraft, the first being STS-30. Galileo became the first spacecraft to orbit an outer planet and to penetrate the atmosphere of an outer planet, the spacecraft was scheduled to make the first extended observations of the Jovian system and first direct sampling of Jupiters atmosphere, as well as the first asteroid flybys. Several anomalies occurred during the flight, but none had a impact on the mission. On 22 October 1989, an alarm woke the crew when the gas generator fuel pump system A heaters on Auxiliary Power Unit 2 failed to recycle at the upper limits of the system. There were some problems with the Flash Evaporator System for cooling the orbiter, and the cryogenic oxygen manifold valve 2.
A Hasselblad camera jammed twice, and a camera had to be used. Chang Díaz described his second flight as much more subdued, demonstrators protested at launch time against the flight because it had a nuclear device on board to power the Galileo spacecraft. He identified the deployment of Galileo as another part of the mission as he only had a tight six-second opportunity to succeed. On 21 October 1989, Costa Rican President Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez talked in Spanish with Chang-Diaz, a native of Costa Rica, Arias told Chang-Diaz, You raise high the name of Costa Rica and Latin America in general
New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASAs New Frontiers program. Engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Southwest Research Institute, on January 19,2006, New Horizons was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station directly into an Earth-and-solar escape trajectory with a speed of about 16.26 kilometers per second. After a brief encounter with asteroid 132524 APL, New Horizons proceeded to Jupiter, making its closest approach on February 28,2007, most of the post-Jupiter voyage was spent in hibernation mode to preserve on-board systems, except for brief annual checkouts. On December 6,2014, New Horizons was brought online for the Pluto encounter. On January 15,2015, the New Horizons spacecraft began its approach phase to Pluto, on July 14,2015, at 11,49 UTC, it flew 12,500 km above the surface of Pluto, making it the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet. On October 25,2016, at 21,48 UTC, the last of the recorded data from the Pluto flyby was received from New Horizons.
Having completed its flyby of Pluto, New Horizons has maneuvered for a flyby of Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, expected to place on January 1,2019. Appointed as the principal investigator, Stern was described by Krimigis as the personification of the Pluto mission. New Horizons was based largely on Sterns work since Pluto 350, the New Horizons proposal was one of five that were officially submitted to NASA. It was selected as one of two finalists to be subject to a concept study, in June 2001. In November 2001, New Horizons was officially selected for funding as part of the New Frontiers program. However, the new NASA Administrator appointed by the Bush Administration, Sean OKeefe, was not supportive of New Horizons, after an intense campaign to gain support for New Horizons, the Planetary Science Decadal Survey of 2003-2013 was published in the summer of 2002. New Horizons topped the list of projects considered the highest priority among the community in the medium-size category, ahead of missions to the Moon.
Weiler stated that it was a result that administration was not going to fight, Alice Bowman became Mission Operations Manager. New Horizons is the first mission in NASAs New Frontiers mission category and more expensive than the Discovery missions, the cost of the mission is approximately $700 million over 15 years. The spacecraft was built primarily by Southwest Research Institute and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the missions principal investigator is Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute. After separation from the vehicle, overall control was taken by Mission Operations Center at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Howard County. The science instruments are operated at Clyde Tombaugh Science Operations Center in Boulder, New Horizons was originally planned as a voyage to the only unexplored planet in the Solar System
The Titan IV family of rockets were used by the U. S. Air Force. They were launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, at the time of its introduction, the Titan IV was the largest unmanned space booster used by the Air Force. As originally conceived in the mid-1980s, the Titan IV was only intended to complement the space shuttle, the Challenger Disaster caused a renewed dependence on expendable launch vehicles so that the program was significantly expanded. Under the original plan, the Titan IV would only be paired with Centaur stages, the post-Challenger program involved flying IUS or even no upper stages. LC-41 at the Cape was converted for Titan IV use along with SLC-4E, the latter, a Titan II/IIIB pad, was completely rebuilt for Titan-Centaur launches. The end of the Cold War a few years caused Department of Defense programs to be scaled back significantly so that one of the planned VABF Titan IV sites was cancelled. Even with the schedule, almost forty Titan IVs were scheduled as of 1991.
The Titan IV was the last of the Titan family of rockets and it was retired in 2005 due to its high cost of operation. The final launch from Cape Canaveral AFS occurred on April 29,2005, lockheed Martin Space Systems built the Titan IVs near Denver, under contract to the government. The Titan IV was developed to provide assured capability to launch Space Shuttle–class payloads for the Air Force, the Titan IV could be launched with no upper stage, or either of two upper stages, the IUS, and the Centaur rocket upper stage. The Titan IV was made up of two large solid-fuel rocket boosters and a two-stage liquid-fueled core, the two storable liquid fuel core stages used Aerozine 50 fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer. These propellants are hypergolic and are liquids at room temperature, so no tank insulation is needed and this allows the launcher to be stored in a ready state for extended periods. However, both propellants are extremely toxic, choice of launch site depended on mission parameters and mission goals.
The Titan rocket family was established in October 1955 when the Air Force awarded the Glenn L. Martin Company a contract to build an intercontinental ballistic missile. It became known as the Titan I, the nations first two-stage ICBM, both stages of the Titan I used liquid oxygen and RP-1 as propellants. A subsequent version of the Titan family, the Titan II, was similar to the Titan I, designated as LGM-25C, the Titan II was the largest missile developed for the USAF at that time. The Titan IV was flown in a variety of configurations depending on the needs, including no upper stages, IUS stages. Titan III development began in 1964 with the Titan IIIA, years later, the Titan IVB evolved from the Titan III family and is similar to the Titan 34D
A heliocentric orbit is an orbit around the barycenter of the Solar System, which is usually located within or very near the surface of the Sun. All planets and asteroids in the Solar System are in such orbits, the moons of planets in the Solar System, by contrast, are not in heliocentric orbits as they orbit their respective planet. A similar phenomenon allows the detection of exoplanets by way of the radial velocity method, the helio- prefix is derived from the Greek word helios, meaning sun, and Helios, the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. The first spacecraft to be put in an orbit is Luna 1. A trans-Mars injection is an orbit in which a propulsive maneuver is used to set a spacecraft on a trajectory, known as Mars transfer orbit. Every two years, low-energy transfer windows open up which allow movement between planets with the lowest possible delta-v requirements, transfer injections can place spacecraft into either a Hohmann transfer orbit or bi-elliptic transfer orbit. Trans-Mars injections can be either a single maneuver burn, such as used by the NASA MAVEN orbiter, or a series of perigee kicks.
Earths orbit Geocentric orbit Heliocentrism Astrodynamics Low-energy transfer List of artificial objects in heliocentric orbit List of orbits
The Space Shuttle was a partially reusable low Earth orbital spacecraft system operated by the U. S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as part of the Space Shuttle program. Its official program name was Space Transportation System, taken from a 1969 plan for a system of reusable spacecraft of which it was the only item funded for development, the first of four orbital test flights occurred in 1981, leading to operational flights beginning in 1982. Five complete Shuttle systems were built and used on a total of 135 missions from 1981 to 2011, the Shuttle fleets total mission time was 1322 days,19 hours,21 minutes and 23 seconds. Shuttle components included the Orbiter Vehicle, a pair of solid rocket boosters. The Shuttle was launched vertically, like a rocket, with the two SRBs operating in parallel with the OVs three main engines, which were fueled from the ET. The SRBs were jettisoned before the vehicle reached orbit, and the ET was jettisoned just before orbit insertion, at the conclusion of the mission, the orbiter fired its OMS to de-orbit and re-enter the atmosphere.
The orbiter glided as a spaceplane to a landing, usually at the Shuttle Landing Facility of KSC or Rogers Dry Lake in Edwards Air Force Base. After landing at Edwards, the orbiter was back to the KSC on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The first orbiter, was built in 1976 for use in Approach, four fully operational orbiters were initially built, Challenger and Atlantis. Of these, two were lost in accidents, Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003, with a total of fourteen astronauts killed. A fifth operational orbiter, was built in 1991 to replace Challenger, the Space Shuttle was retired from service upon the conclusion of Atlantiss final flight on July 21,2011. Nixons post-Apollo NASA budgeting withdrew support of all components except the Shuttle. The vehicle consisted of a spaceplane for orbit and re-entry, fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks. The first of four orbital test flights occurred in 1981, leading to operational flights beginning in 1982, all launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
The system was retired from service in 2011 after 135 missions, the program ended after Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center on July 21,2011. Major missions included launching numerous satellites and interplanetary probes, conducting space science experiments, the first orbiter vehicle, named Enterprise, was built for the initial Approach and Landing Tests phase and lacked engines, heat shielding, and other equipment necessary for orbital flight. A total of five operational orbiters were built, and of these and it was used for orbital space missions by NASA, the US Department of Defense, the European Space Agency and Germany. The United States funded Shuttle development and operations except for the Spacelab modules used on D1, sL-J was partially funded by Japan
Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer
The JUpiter ICy moons Explorer is an interplanetary spacecraft in development by the European Space Agency with Airbus Defence and Space as the main contractor. The spacecraft is set for launch in 2022 and would reach Jupiter in 2030, by 2033 the spacecraft should enter orbit around Ganymede for its close up science mission and becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than the moon of earth. The selection of this mission for the L1 launch slot of ESAs Cosmic Vision science programme was announced on 2 May 2012, the mission started as a reformulation of the Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter proposal, which was to be ESAs component of the cancelled Europa Jupiter System Mission—Laplace. It became a candidate for the first L-class mission of the ESA Cosmic Vision Programme, in April 2012 JUICE was recommended over the proposed ATHENA X-ray telescope and a gravitational wave observatory. In July 2015, Airbus Defence and Space was selected as the Prime Contractor to design, a proposed timeline is launch in 2022 on an Ariane 5 carrier rocket and arrival at the Jupiter system in 2030.
By 2033 the spacecraft should enter orbit around Ganymede, after completing various manoeuvres around Jupiter, proposed instruments include cameras, and an ice-penetrating radar. The JUpiter ICy moons Explorer will perform detailed investigations on Ganymede as a planetary body, investigations of Europa and Callisto will complete a comparative picture of these Galilean moons. The three moons are thought to harbour internal liquid-water oceans, and so are central to understanding the habitability of icy worlds. For Europa, the focus is on the essential to life, including organic molecules, and on understanding the formation of surface features. Furthermore, JUICE will provide the first subsurface sounding of the moon, the main spacecraft design drivers are related to the large distance to the Sun, the use of solar power, and Jupiters harsh radiation environment. The orbit insertions at Jupiter and Ganymede and the number of flyby manoeuvres requires the spacecraft to carry about 3,000 kg of chemical propellant.
Cooperation and a possible synergy with JUICE Ganymede orbital mission is being discussed between ESA and Roscosmos, russia has proposed to power the JUICE spacecraft with a Russian-built radioisotope thermoelectric generator, replacing solar panels that would be vulnerable to Jupiters radiation
Gravity assistance can be used to accelerate a spacecraft, that is, to increase or decrease its speed or redirect its path. The assist is provided by the motion of the body as it pulls on the spacecraft. It was used by interplanetary probes from Mariner 10 onwards, including the two Voyager probes notable flybys of Jupiter and Saturn, a gravity assist around a planet changes a spacecrafts velocity by entering and leaving the gravitational field of a planet. The spacecrafts speed increases as it approaches the planet and decreases while escaping its gravitational pull, because the planet orbits the sun, the spacecraft is affected by this motion during the maneuver. To increase speed, the flies with the movement of the planet, to decrease speed. The sum of the energies of both bodies remains constant. A slingshot maneuver can therefore be used to change the spaceships trajectory, a close terrestrial analogy is provided by a tennis ball bouncing off the front of a moving train. Imagine standing on a platform, and throwing a ball at 30 km/h toward a train approaching at 50 km/h.
The driver of the sees the ball approaching at 80 km/h. Because of the motion, that departure is at 130 km/h relative to the train platform. Translating this analogy into space, in the reference frame. After the slingshot occurs and the leaves the planet, it will still have a velocity of v. In the Sun reference frame, the planet has a velocity of v, and by using the Pythagorean Theorem. After the spaceship leaves the planet, it will have a velocity of v + v = 2v and this example is one of many trajectories and gained speeds the spaceship can have. The linear momentum gained by the spaceship is equal in magnitude to that lost by the planet, so the spacecraft gains velocity, the planets enormous mass compared to the spacecraft makes the resulting change in its speed negligibly small. These effects on the planet are so slight that they can be ignored in the calculation, realistic portrayals of encounters in space require the consideration of three dimensions. The same principles apply, only adding the planets velocity to that of the spacecraft requires vector addition, due to the reversibility of orbits, gravitational slingshots can be used to reduce the speed of a spacecraft.
Both Mariner 10 and MESSENGER performed this maneuver to reach Mercury, if even more speed is needed than available from gravity assist alone, the most economical way to utilize a rocket burn is to do it near the periapsis
Europa Clipper is an interplanetary mission in development by NASA comprising an orbiter and a lander. Set for a launch in the 2020s, the spacecraft are being developed to study the Galilean moon Europa through a lander, until March 7,2017, the mission was developed under the name Europa Multiple Flyby Mission. The mission is a follow-up to studies made by the Galileo spacecraft during its eight years in Jupiter orbit, which indicated the existence of a subsurface ocean underneath Europa. Plans to send a spacecraft to Europa were initially conceived with such as Europa Orbiter and Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter. The mission has been referred to as the Europa Multiple Flyby Mission, the mission will be complemented by ESAs Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, which will fly-by Callisto multiple times before moving into orbit around Ganymede. Launching around the time as the Europa Multiple Flyby Mission. Europa has been identified as one of the locations in the Solar System that could possibly harbor microbial extraterrestrial life, the proposed Europa Clipper is still in its planning phase, but the approximate cost is estimated at $2 billion.
The mission is a joint project between the Johns Hopkins Universitys Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In May 2014, a House bill substantially increased the Europa Multiple Flyby Mission funding budget for the 2014 fiscal year from $15 million to $100 million to be applied to pre-formulation work. Following the 2014 election cycle, bipartisan support was pledged to continue funding for the Europa Multiple Flyby Mission project, the executive branch has granted $30 million for preliminary studies. In April 2015, NASA offered to the European Space Agency to submit concepts for a probe to fly together with the Europa Clipper spacecraft. It could be a probe, an impactor or a lander. An internal assessment at ESA is underway to see if there is interest and funds available, in May 2015, NASA chose nine instruments that would fly on board the orbiter. They will cost about $110 million over the three years. In June 2015, NASA announced its approval of the concept, allowing the orbiter to move to its formulation stage.
In February 2017 the mission moved from Phase A to Phase B, Phase B is the preliminary design phase of the mission. The goals of Europa Clipper are to explore Europa, investigate its habitability, the objectives are to study, Ice shell and ocean, Confirm the existence, and characterize the nature, of water within or beneath the ice, and processes of surface-ice-ocean exchange. Composition and chemistry of key compounds and the links to ocean composition, geology and formation of surface features, including sites of recent or current activity
Exploration of Jupiter
The exploration of Jupiter has been conducted via close observations by automated spacecraft. It began with the arrival of Pioneer 10 into the Jovian system in 1973 and these probes make Jupiter the most visited of the Solar Systems outer planets as all missions to the outer Solar System have used Jupiter flybys to reduce fuel requirements and travel time. On 5 July 2016, spacecraft Juno arrived and entered the planets orbit—the second craft ever to do so, sending a craft to Jupiter entails many technical difficulties, especially due to the probes large fuel requirements and the effects of the planets harsh radiation environment. The first spacecraft to visit Jupiter was Pioneer 10 in 1973, aside from taking the first close-up pictures of the planet, the probes discovered its magnetosphere and its largely fluid interior. Ulysses further studied Jupiters magnetosphere in 1992 and again in 2000, the Cassini probe approached the planet in 2000 and took very detailed images of its atmosphere. The New Horizons spacecraft passed by Jupiter in 2007 and made improved measurements of its and its satellites parameters, the Galileo spacecraft was the first to have entered orbit around Jupiter, arriving in 1995 and studying the planet until 2003.
It discovered a field around Ganymede. As it approached Jupiter, it witnessed the impact of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9. In December 1995, it sent a probe into the Jovian atmosphere. In July 2016, the Juno spacecraft, launched in 2011, completed its orbital insertion maneuver successfully, JUICE is proposed to be launched in 2022. Flights from Earth to other planets in the Solar System have an energy cost. It requires almost the same amount of energy for a spacecraft to reach Jupiter from Earths orbit as it does to lift it into orbit in the first place, in astrodynamics, this energy expenditure is defined by the net change in the spacecrafts velocity, or delta-v. The energy needed to reach Jupiter from an Earth orbit requires a delta-v of about 9 km/s, ion thrusters capable of a delta-v of more than 10 kilometers/s were used on the Dawn spacecraft. This is more than enough delta-v to do a Jupiter fly-by mission from an orbit of the same radius as that of Earth without gravity assist. A major problem in sending space probes to Jupiter is that the planet has no solid surface on which to land, any probes descending into the atmosphere are eventually crushed by the immense pressures within Jupiter.
Another major issue is the amount of radiation to which a probe is subjected. The subsequent and far more technologically advanced Voyager spacecraft had to be redesigned to cope with the radiation levels, over the eight years the Galileo spacecraft orbited the planet, the probes radiation dose far exceeded its design specifications, and its systems failed on several occasions. The radiation caused shifts in Galileos ultra-stable quartz oscillator
Atlas V is an active expendable launch system in the Atlas rocket family. Atlas V was formerly operated by Lockheed Martin, and is now operated by the Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture United Launch Alliance, the RD-180 engines are provided by RD Amross, while Aerojet Rocketdyne provides both the RL10 engines and the strap-on boosters used in some configurations. The standard payload fairing sizes are 4 or 5 meters in diameter, fairings sizes as large as 7.2 m in diameter and up to 32.3 m in length have been considered. The rocket is assembled in Decatur and Harlingen, the Atlas V was developed by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services as part of the US Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program and made its inaugural flight on August 21,2002. The vehicle operates out of Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services continues to market the Atlas V to commercial customers worldwide. The Atlas V first stage, the Common Core Booster, is 12.5 ft in diameter and 106.6 ft in length and it is powered by a single Russian RD-180 main engine burning 627,105 lb of liquid oxygen and RP-1.
The booster operates for four minutes, providing about 4 meganewtons of thrust. Thrust can be augmented with up to five Aerojet strap-on solid rocket boosters, the Atlas V is the newest member of the Atlas family. Compared to the Atlas III vehicle, there are numerous changes, compared to the Atlas II, the first stage is a near-redesign. The 1.5 staging technique was dropped on the Atlas III, the RD-180 features a dual-combustion chamber, dual-nozzle design and is fueled by a kerosene/liquid oxygen mixture. The main-stage diameter increased from 10 feet to 12.5 feet, as with the Atlas III, the different mixture ratio of the engine called for a larger oxygen tank compared to Western engines and stages. The first stage no longer use stainless steel monocoque balloon construction. The tanks are aluminum and are structurally stable when unpressurized. Use of aluminum, with a thermal conductivity than stainless steel. The tanks are covered in a polyurethane-based layer, accommodation points for parallel stages, both smaller solids and identical liquids, are built into first stage structures.
The Centaur upper stage uses a pressure stabilized propellant tank design, the inertial navigation unit located on the Centaur provides guidance and navigation for both the Atlas and Centaur, and controls both Atlas and Centaur tank pressures and propellant use. The Centaur engines are capable of multiple in-space starts, making possible insertion into low Earth parking orbit, followed by a coast period, a subsequent third burn following a multi-hour coast can permit direct injection of payloads into geostationary orbit. The standard payload fairing sizes are 4 or 5 meters in diameter, the 4. 2-meter fairing, originally designed for the Atlas II booster, comes in three different lengths, the original 9-meter high version, as well as fairings 10 meters and 11 meters high
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery is one of the orbiters from NASAs Space Shuttle program and the third of five fully operational orbiters to be built. Its first mission, STS-41-D, flew from August 30 to September 5,1984, over 27 years of service it launched and landed 39 times, gathering more spaceflights than any other spacecraft to date. Discovery became the third operational orbiter to enter service, preceded by Columbia and Challenger. It embarked on its last mission, STS-133, on February 24,2011 and touched down for the time at Kennedy Space Center on March 9. Discovery performed both research and International Space Station assembly missions and it carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Discovery was the first operational shuttle to be retired, followed by Endeavour, Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope and conducted the second and third Hubble service missions. It launched the Ulysses probe and three TDRS satellites, project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 at the time, flew with Discovery on STS-95 in 1998, making him the oldest person to go into space.
Had plans to launch United States Department of Defense payloads from Vandenberg Air Force Base gone ahead and its first West Coast mission, STS-62-A, was scheduled for 1986, but canceled in the aftermath of Challenger. Discovery was retired after completing its mission, STS133 on March 9,2011. The spacecraft is now on display in Virginia at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Discovery weighed 6,870 pounds less than Columbia when it was brought into service due to optimizations determined during the construction and testing of Enterprise and Challenger. Beginning in late 1995, the orbiter underwent a nine-month Orbiter Maintenance Down Period in Palmdale and this included outfitting the vehicle with a 5th set of cryogenic tanks and an external airlock to support missions to the International Space Station. After STS-105, Discovery became the first of the fleet to undergo Orbiter Major Modification period at the Kennedy Space Center. Work began in September 2002 to prepare the vehicle for Return to Flight and this included scheduled upgrades and additional safety modifications.
Discovery is 6 pounds heavier than Atlantis and 363 pounds heavier than Endeavour, Discovery was decommissioned on March 9,2011. Discovery replaced Enterprise in the Smithsonians display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, Discovery was transported to Washington Dulles International Airport on April 17,2012, and was transferred to the Udvar-Hazy on April 19 where a welcome ceremony was held. Afterwards, at around 5,30 pm, Discovery was rolled to its final stop in the Udvar Hazy Center. By its last mission, Discovery had flown 149 million miles in 39 missions, completed 5,830 orbits, Discovery flew more flights than any other Orbiter Shuttle, including four in 1985 alone. Discovery flew all three return to flight missions after the Challenger and Columbia disasters, STS-26 in 1988, STS-114 in 2005, Discovery flew the ante-penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle program, STS-133, having launched on February 24,2011