It's a bittersweet occasion, really. Space Shuttle Discovery has just returned from the unknown that we call "space," safely returning six astronauts and
zero Robonaut 2
s to Earth after a 13-day mission. Discovery's legacy stretches back 27 years, compiling 39 flights during that span and making an indelible mark on the history of American space exploration. This guy is also the first shuttle to be retired after NASA
was rocked a few years back by the impossible-to-ignore budget crunch, and already museums and institutes (29 at last count) are lining up to lobby their case for capturing it. No question, having this 170,000 pound benemoth at your museum would likely benefit admission numbers, but it's not like Discovery will be the only craft calling it quits in the near future. As of now, no decision has been made as to where it'll wheel off to for the final time, but you can bet whoever lands it will make quite the scene.
[Image courtesy of Stephen Clark