Shuttle Discovery to Fly Over Arlington on Tuesday

by Katie Pyzyk April 16, 2012 at 10:45 am 8,042 71 Comments

Eyes will be on the skies tomorrow, when the space shuttle Discovery flies to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. There are actually some spots in Arlington that are being touted as great places to watch the flight.

NASA listed of some of the top places to see the shuttle in the DC metro area. Long Bridge Park and Gravelly Point in Arlington both received mentions. The Memorial Bridge, which covers ground in both Arlington and DC, is also on the list.

The shuttle is expected to pass near a number of landmarks in the area, including Reagan National Airport. Although not on the official list, some places like the Air Force Memorial and Mount Vernon Trail might also make decent viewing locations.

The shuttle will depart from the Kennedy Space Station in Florida around 7:30 a.m., and is expected to fly over Arlington between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., before landing at Dulles. The exact route and timing of the flight will be weather dependent.

Discovery will be mounted on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, which is a modified Boeing 747, during its journey. On Thursday, the shuttle is scheduled to be moved from Dulles to the Udvar-Hazy Center for permanent public display.

Discovery was retired after completing its 39th mission in March 2011. NASA’s final space shuttle mission ended with Atlantis on July 21, 2011.

The Air and Space Museum will be updating its website regularly to list the shuttle’s locations. Those who don’t have internet access can receive updates via a phone hotline. Information about receiving updates can be found on the museum’s website.

  • Captain Obvious

    Wish this article had gone up before 10:45 if the viewing window was 10-11!

    • Captain Obvious

      Ack, nevermind, I misread–will be on the roof tomorrow to see it! Thanks for the info.

      • LP

        Hah – your username is perfect for your post!

      • drax

        Hey Captain, you just missed it!

        • Brick

          what a sight. that was great!

  • novasteve

    Will people be able to go inside of it, or will it be like the current Enterprise exhibit where you can only look at it from outside? How cool would that be to be able to go inside something that has spent a year in space if you add up the entire duration of the missions? So let me take a wild guess, we’ll be denied that.

    • CrystalMikey

      According to article in yesterday’s Post, it will be set up just like the current Enterprise exhibit. They don’t want the wear and tear that would come with allowing people to go through it.

      • drax

        That sucks.

        They could at least build a ramp where you could go up and look inside it or something.

      • R. Griffon

        Understandable, but why not make a plexiglass tunnel that people could walk through in order to see it, like they did for that big Skylab module (or whatever it is) downtown?

        How many people would LOVE to actually get to see the inside of a shuttle?

        • Peter Preston

          I think the crew areas are pretty tiny and cramped. It is also designed to be navigated in micro-gravity, so it’s not like it has an aisle like a 737 you can get up and stroll up and down.

          It has several decks, like the flight deck and lower decks for crew berthing and habitation. So you have hatches and level changes, and a really inhospitable door to even get in the thing.

          It would be really hard to make it a walk-through tour without butchering it structurally.

        • WeiQiang

          If you’ve ever seen one of those McDonald’s indoor playground mazes, you’ll understand how difficult it would be to navigate through the crew spaces of the shuttle. If you further add the complication of the obesity of some of the likely visitors [never hurts to add an unrelated peeve], it becomes clear that any sort of entry IN to the shuttle isn’t feasible.

          I do like the idea of something like a transparent catwalk over, under, and around the shuttle. Some of the details would be very instructive.

    • let me also take a wild guess

      that’s the fault of liberal nanny staters

      • drax

        Those liberal museum academics say they’re tolerant, but….

      • P. Monroe

        More the fault of poor behavior by previous museum visitors.

        • Josh S

          Just common sense from a preservation standpoint. Also, I think the structural difficulties mentioned above render any other discussions moot. It’s just not feasible.

      • LPS4DL

        People who complain about the so-called nanny state are usually people who need a nanny.

        I’m bettin’ on you, kid.

        • The joke…

          …you missed it entirely.

    • Rankin

      First Sam’s Corner, now the Space Shuttle.

      We can’t get in ANYWHERE.

  • Kirk

    Saw one flyover back in the 80’s. Sounds like the same path, we watched from the marina off the south end of National.

    • drax

      Saw LOTS of flyovers after the first Iraq war. Every kind of military jet you could think of flew over in our little victory celebration.

      • Kirk

        No, this was another shuttle on a 747. Same deal, low and slow up the river.

        • drax

          I know, I was just adding my own flyover memory.

  • DSS10

    I don’t think that terrorist are going to strike the shuttle, so it would be nice if they could be at least a little bit more specific as to the route and time of the fly over.

    I hope that the Arlington county schools will allow students to see this. It might be better than an hour long video about the Piedmont region….

    • novasteve

      That’s a LOT of mass to be shot down or crash. People’s lives are worth more than your desire to see it. You can see it at the museum.

      • DSS10

        Your right, there is probably another Timothy McVeigh out there…

        • R. Griffon

          And no doubt he’s got a portable anti-air missile in his trunk.


          • nom de guerre

            There are reports that hundreds, perhaps several thousand MANPADS, specifically Soviet made shoulder fired SA-7 Grail heat seeking missiles are missing and unaccounted for in Libya since September of 2011.

          • Manpads?

            tampons for men?

          • Freida

            Know how I know you’re a male?

          • nom de guerre

            Because he doesn’t know the difference between sanitary pads (napkins) and tampons?

          • R. Griffon

            Yes, but these and similar reports are nothing new, dating back all the way to the fall of the Soviet Union 20 years ago. But fears over them are way overblown. Non state-actor use of such devices is pretty rare, and almost totally exclusive to the Middle East and Africa.

            Is it technically possible? Yes. Is it even remotely likely? No. This kind of “afraid of our own shadow” fear is exactly why we can’t have nice things.

          • nom de guerre

            I would venture to guess that a large number of people thought it was “remotely” unlikely that a single commercial airliner would be hijacked and then crashed into a strategic building(s) on a single day, let alone 3 planes performing this feat and another failure.

          • R. Griffon

            Acquiring military-grade hardware AND knowing how to use it properly is just slightly more difficult than carrying a boxcutter onto a plane.

          • Sulley Sullenberger

            What about the skill involved in piloting and navigating a commercial airliner?

          • Josh S

            Actually, not, which is one reason why the whole thing was such a tragedy. There were those who were specifically warning about it.

            Also, if you get hit by lightning once, it doesn’t change the odds that you’ll be hit again. Still very, very remote.

          • drax

            If they use one, they’ll use it on one of the thousands of regular jets with passengers that take off and land every day, not on an empty space shuttle. Better not ever fly again.

    • TMP

      Why shouldn’t Arlington County students learn about the Piedmont region? It’s one of the most historical areas of the Commonwealth, was the home of three presidents, has a thriving wine industry, etc.?

    • WeiQiang

      Well, someone didn’t want to take any chances. From my office, I could see half a dozen police boats out in the Potomac/Anacostia, as well as the MPD helo buzzing around.

  • G Clifford Prout

    And from what I hear, you can get a little cruising done while you’re waiting in some of those locations.

    • Josh S

      Well, DC is a multi-tasking kind of town…..

  • Garden City

    It is a great thing that we’re going to be able to see this, but it’s just terrible what it represents — the retirement of the last vehicle of the United States with the capability to carry a man into orbit. We can’t do that any more. Who, on July 20, 1969, would have imagined that 43 years later, we are incapable of that feat.

    • It is a shame, but from July 1975 (Apollo-Soyuz) until STS-1 in April 1981, almost six years, we weren’t able to put a man in orbit either. There are plans on the drawing board and equipment is being tested – albeit by private companies – to get America back into space. Even if we have to wait until 2015 or 16 for SpaceX to be ready with its Dragon capsule, we’ll be back.

      • Ed

        Agreed, Garden City. It’s a shame that moon landings are so old they bore my children, and now the Shuttle is history to them, as well. I guess I’m supposed to tell them to be proud of our drones.

    • R. Griffon

      It’s because the anti-intellectual movement is largely winning in America. We simply don’t like science, and aren’t willing to fund it. So we’ve left it to other countries to lead the way while we willingly take a backseat.

      We spend more to air condition tents in the Middle East than we spend on the entire NASA budget. I wish I were kidding (Source: http://www.npr.org/2011/06/25/137414737/among-the-costs-of-war-20b-in-air-conditioning)

      • Garden City

        We seem as a nation not to have any imagination any more. That was always one thing that set us apart from Europe — we still had national dreams. Somehow we’ve lost that or forgotten it.

        • Are you sure??

          That’s what happens when you teach to the lowest common denominator the way we do – the gifted students are bored by the third week of school and the masses that they teach to were never really that interested to begin with.

          Then they get to college and no amount of complaints by mommy and daddy will change that D in ‘Intro to Chemistry’ to a B or an A, and they end up asking “do you want fries with that” and complaining because they can’t afford a condo in Clarendon (only there just aren’t enough units being built) without understanding that reality – like Chemistry – passed them by. Hard to have imagination when you trade learning for Facebook

      • Zoning Victim

        It certainly doesn’t look like that’s true (that we aren’t’ willing to fund scientific R&D):



        If you added up the office supplies the federal government purchased, it may be more than NASA’s budget, too, but that doesn’t change the fact that federal support for R&D has increased over the years and NASA’s budget is pretty close to the highest it’s been since shortly after the end of the Apollo project.

  • NoVA for statehood!

    Little known fact — the entire Arlington Memorial Bridge is technically in DC. Its western side ends on Columbia Island, which is part of the District.

    • drax

      Good point – and it’s a very well-known fact to some of those who read ArlNow’s comments, actually.

    • RittMomney

      And I think the southern tip of National Airport is in DC, too. It’s from these two points that DC will mount its invasion of NOVA and rescue us from socialism.

  • Fly Over

    Despite the naysayers claiming secrecy about a publily advertised flight you should be able to watch the progress here. http://flightaware.com/live/flight/NASA905.

    • Joehoya

      Some people won’t be happy unless they are told _exactly_ where to set up their surface to air missiles.

    • DarkHeart

      Is there an updated flight tracker?

      • KalashniKEV

        Does anyone know the flight number? I can’t google it up…

  • o y’all i’m pumped u guys i like the shuttles!!

  • As mentioned by Katie in the article, Long Bridge Park (475 Long Bridge Drive, Arlington) will make a great place to catch a glimpse of space shuttle Discovery on its way to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum!

    You can find more info on the park here: http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/ParksRecreation/scripts/parks/LongBridgePark.aspx

  • HayCaramba

    Any particular reason why Iwo Jima would not be an ideal place? Something like this only at a wider angle?


    • Contractor

      this is where we’ll be.

      • Joehoya

        Shhhhhh! Let the tourists go to Gravelly Point.


    Too bad only old people, lazy people and government workers will be able to see the 747 fly by. People who have to work for a living will probably see this on the evening news!! Lazy peeps get it all!!!


      Oh and when i mentioned Government Workers I meant they were lazy too…

      • Josh S



          Oh what being lazy…….or being a thief to the tax payers…

    • Hattie McDaniel

      It must suck to be chained to ones desk.

    • WeiQiang

      … he/she posts to ArlNow.

  • Z

    It just flew by DC/Crystal City about 10 minutes ago. It was flying south down the river toward Reagan airport. Hard to see, but pretty cool!

    • Clarendon

      Good view from my office in Skyline. It came through twice (so far).

  • ses

    I just saw the shuttle fly over the Clarendon area a few minutes ago…..Great experience…..

    • nom de guerre

      The pass over Clarendon was in tribute to Sam’s Corner. I understand they provided the food for the flight crew.

      • WeiQiang

        The shuttle came by Sam’s 4 times … ‘Closed’

  • Josh S

    Even for just a few seconds, that was very cool. Jealous of those right along the river who got to see it longer….


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