NASA's most traveled spacecraft, space shuttle Discovery, has officially joined the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum today.
After making its way from Florida to Dulles International Airport on Tuesday, the Discovery, bruised by more than one million miles in space, was twoed and placed nose to nose with its sister shuttle the Enterprise while the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps played.
Almost two dozen astronauts, some bent by age but still proud, marched alongside the equally-weathered space ship they used to sever their earthly bonds and touch the heavens.
Hundreds of spectators were on hand, waiting to get their first glimpse of the shuttle. Even Paul Ceruzzi, curator and chair of the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian was blown away by the spectacle: "It's incredible, I couldn't believe it. I thought I had seen everything, but when I came out here this morning, I was completely blown away."
The Enterprise, which never made it out to space but has instead sat in the museum for decades, was towed out on the tarmac before its trip to New York, as the Discovery was brought into the space hangar, where it will make its permenant home.
"We're not going to clean it," explains Ceruzzi. "It really shows the wear and tear of millions and millions of miles in space. And we're going to leave that, because I love the way it looks like it's done some work."
Thursday was the first of four days of exhibit for space shuttle Discovery.