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Shuttle Discovery’s Last Flight

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I had the once in a lifetime opportunity today to hear Space Shuttle Discovery make her final flight as she was carried on the back of a NASA Boeing 747 to Washington D.C. I was working on some other things this morning and had forgotten all about the move, so thanks to my friends Chris Edwards and Mike Comer for reminding me.

NASA 905 with Shuttle Discovery on board and a T-38 chase plane making a low approach past Kennedy Space Center (photo by Mike Comer)

This morning, the Space Shuttle Discovery was flown from Kennedy Space Center to Dulles International Airport for delivery to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  Just before 7:00 AM Eastern, NASA 905 with Shuttle Discovery departed the Space Center en route to Dulles.  Thanks to the heads up I received, I began hearing NASA 932 (C-9B, NASA) and NASA 905 (747, NASA) on 235.400 with air-to-air traffic around 7:45 AM.  Frustratingly, I wasn’t able to hear them on air traffic control frequencies until they were north of Savannah on 135.975 (Jax Center Alma High).  NASA 932 also showed on the RadarBox as it flew past Savannah but disappointingly, NASA 905 with Discovery was not transmitting any ADS-B information.  Twitter reports also indicated this because NASA 905 wasn’t being tracked on FlightAware either.  Needless to say there were some upset Space Shuttle fans.  Based on the air-to-air communications on 235.400, 905 was 70 miles behind 932 when they went past Savannah so if you knew where 932 was you still had an idea of where 905 and Discovery were.

NASA 905 and Shuttle Discovery do a fly-by of Kennedy Space Center before departing to Dulles International Airport in Washington DC for Discovery's delivery to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (photo by Mike Comer)

It was a terrific yet bittersweet morning on the radios; I was thrilled to catch Discovery’s final flight but I’m sad that Discovery will never again launch into orbit.  As the shuttles fly off to the museums they’ve been promised to we are seeing the end of an era.  I’m glad I got to witness it.


4 Comments

  1. Sure it wasn’t 235.400? That’s a common NASA freq. They use it here at Ellington in Houston.

    • KF4LMT says:

      Myles, thanks for catching my typo. It was indeed 235.400, it should be correct in the post now.

      • No problem. Just making sure I’m not missing out on another possible NASA freq. Just found out about 230.500 being used by them too so I’m going to keep an ear out for that one too. BTW, you have 234.500 cited once more in the article just before the 2nd photo.
        I hope they might stop by Ellington on the way to the west coast later and I get a photo op.

  2. Bill Chance says:

    Interesting story. The news today reminded me of when I first saw the shuttle on a 747 in 1980 or so and wrote a blog entry about it.

    Thanks for sharing.

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