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Discovery Lands At The Smithsonian

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Space shuttle Discovery has officially arrived at its new home at the Smithsonian.
Armando Trull
Space shuttle Discovery has officially arrived at its new home at the Smithsonian.

NASA's most traveled spacecraft has officially joined the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Space shuttle Discovery is the first in its orbiter fleet to be transferred to a museum in the United States.

Discovery is displayed next to older spacecraft models from the 1960s and '70s so visitors can see the differences in design and structure.

"The contrast could not be more striking," says curator Valerie Neal.

Up close, visitors will get a look at the thousands of little tiles along the main landing gear, near the aft of the orbiter. Some of the tiles look shiny and new, while others look as if they've been to space and back many times. Neal explains the newer-looking tiles were recently replaced.

Another part of the shuttle visitors will get to see is the astronauts' sleeping quarters.

"The size of the work quarters are about the size of two minivans stacked on top of each other," says Neal. "And all the rest of this vehicle is a big cargo carrier. A good analogy is an 18-wheeler truck, where you have a little living area up in the cabin and everything else is your cargo bay."

Visitors can see the spacecraft at the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

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