Heather Manoogian and her four daughters joined hundreds of others from the Washington area to get a glimpse of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
The shuttle will now call the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center home since it was retired. As the shuttle appeared from behind some nearby trees, Manoogian’s daughters yelled, “There it is!”
“We’ve always wanted to see the shuttle take off and never made it,” said Manoogian of Damascus, Md. “This was a chance of a lifetime.”
Air traffic at Ronald Reagan National Airport sat still on the ground as the Boeing 747 transport plane carried the shuttle for four flyovers. People who couldn’t make there way into the parking lot at Gravelly Point Park parked along the roadways to get pictures of the shuttle. According to NASA, Discovery was in service for more than 28 years beginning with its arrival on Nov. 9, 1983, to begin processing for its first launch Aug. 30, 1984.
As the shuttle came closer into site, Manoogian ended a phone call with her husband to get a few shots of the flyover. After the large transport plane made its way toward the Washington Monument, one of her daughters asked if the shuttle was gone. Manoogian quickly answered back, “I think it’s coming back one more time today.”
“Growing up, watching the shuttle was a big deal,” she said. “It’s a shame it’s coming to an end.”
Terry Springer, NASA’s lead for communications and education set up a table with tiles from a shuttles as well as a portion of a tire and other items found aboard a shuttle. He said NASA is looking into different spacecraft to replace the shuttles but there is no timeframe for when a prototype will be ready.
“NASA is not dead just because the shuttles are retired,” Springer said. “There is still a space program.”
Like many of the other people admitted Tuesday, Brian Suite of Arlington told his job he would be late but didn’t tell them why. He said he had to see the shuttle in the air once before it retired even if it had some help staying up. He said you can’t see something like this every day especially in the Washington area.
“It meant a lot for me to see this,” Suite said. “I’ve grown up with the shuttle program.”