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Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 04/17/2012

Discovery space shuttle in Washington: Live updates, photos (#WelcomeDiscovery)

The Discovery space shuttle flew over Washington Tuesday morning before coming in for a landing at Dulles Airport. Follow our live updates of the shuttle’s journey through the skies over the capital.

Send us your #WelcomeDiscovery photos

Watch video of Discovery fly-over


11:43 a.m.| Dispatches from the scene

For some, welcoming the shuttle to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly brings a lifetime of Discovery fandom full circle. Centreville resident Kyle Foster, who took the morning off of work to witness Discovery’s return with his wife and one-year-old daughter, called it a “living piece of history.”

“[Today is] a testament to the appeal of the space program,” Foster said. “The space shuttle has always been an iconic figure and ... now it’s publicly accessible.”

— Rachel Karas, Post reporter at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly


11:40 a.m.| Dispatches from the scene

More than 50 people scanned the skies from a pedestrian bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail near National Airport Tuesday morning, watching the Discovery shuttle pass several times.

“Holy cow!” shouted Richard Robinson, 51, of Northeast Washington, as the shuttle flew directly over the bridge.

Onlookers lined the bridge, clutching cellphones, small cameras and large cameras with huge lenses and tripods, hoping to capture part of the flyover, which included passes near the Capitol and Washington Monument.

Nancy Keller, 60, of Crystal City, was planning to go shopping with a friend visiting from Alaska, but they delayed their trip to see the shuttle. Keller retired two weeks ago from the Office of Veterans Affairs, and said she enjoys the free time she now has to see things like this.

“It’s a fun way to retire,” she said.

Sonny Gupta, 40, from Ashburn, was planning to head in to work later than usual on Tuesday.

“This is such a unique experience,” he said. “How often do you get to see a shuttle being transported somewhere?”

Kristen Mitchell, 26, of Springfield, Va., grew up watching shuttle take-offs in school, and attended Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, three times when she was younger.

She was driving to Gravelly Point Park to try to spot the shuttle, but gave up and pulled the car over on to the grass when the traffic got too bad.

“If the police give me a ticket, it’s worth it,” she said. “You only get to do this once.”

— Stefanie Dazio, Post reporter at Mount Vernon Trail


11:22 a.m.| Dispatches from the scene

At the National Mall, cheers, whoops, and hollers erupted from the crowd, entranced by the sight of a space shuttle anchored precariously on the back of a 747.

“It’s a spectacular view to see the big shuttle on the back of a 747,” said JJ Morgan, a 70-year-old Silver Spring resident. “The shuttle’s pretty big itself, but to see it on the back of another plane — that’s pretty amazing.”

His wife, Carol, was a little less jubilant. “I’m a little sad because I can remember when the space program first started, and I’ll miss it. I’ll miss following it.”

Amateur photographer Jenny Markley put in for a day off nearly two months prior just to get a prime spot to photograph the flight. Armed with both a film and digital camera, she was also able to witness the Discovery launch in Florida more than a year ago.

“It’s kind of cool to see that same shuttle being delivered here,” she said.

Markley acknowledged that some people might find this experience “kind of boring,” but said it is important for her and her work. “This is kind of like the last shot, so to me it’s kind of special. “

Some spectators continued to hang around in the hopes of catching one last flyover, but all of the good shots had been taken by 10:15 a.m.

Kelly Laughren from Rockville was on the Mall for a pre-planned field trip. “I knew it was going on, so I came down a little early,” the 21 year-old says of the “bittersweet” experience.

A longtime fan of the shuttle program who has visited the Kennedy Space Center “multiple times,”Laughren said the experience “was really really exciting. I got at least 30 pictures of it.”

— Erin Williams, Post reporter at the National Mall


11:18 a.m.

Did you get photos of the Discovery’s fly-over and landing? Share them with us via Twitter or upload them to our photo gallery.

Discovery

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11:05 a.m.

The 747, with the space shuttle Discovery on its back, just landed at Dulles Airport.


10:58 a.m.

To the delight of fans on the ground, the shuttle completed extra passes over the National Mall and Dulles. As a result, despite arriving in the region ahead of schedule, Discovery and its carrier are still airborne. The pair is expected to land in the next few minutes.


10:48 a.m.

The shuttle flying over 16th Street earlier this morning:


10:44 a.m. | Dispatches from the scene


An Instagram photo of the view from next to the Washington Monument. (AJ Chavar - The Washington Post)
People crowded the hilly rise surrounding the east side of the Washington Monument in order to get a good view of the shuttle.

Alexandria resident Dana Damico, 40, kept her four children home from school to see what she called “an historic occasion.”

“For my husband and I, this is a little nostalgic for us because we grew up with the space shuttle program,” she said. “Our kids won’t get to see the shuttle launch, so we brought them out to see this.”

Her son, 5-year-old Desmond Damico-Lassman, wore an astronaut costume to the flyover in hopes the pilots of the aircraft would bring him aboard.

Richmond-area resident Jim McDevitt, 67, brought his grandchildren up to Washington for the event.

“I always wanted to take them to see the shuttle launch, but it never seemed to work out with their school schedules and such,” he said. “I thought this might be the last time we’d be able to see one in the air. This worked out perfect for us.”

The crowd pointed their cameras skyward each time the shuttle passed into view and clapped each time it disappeared over the horizon. Baltimore resident Bradley Harden, 24, said he’s a longtime fan of the space program and has seen the shuttle launch firsthand.

“This was a good opportunity to see it one last time,” he said.

— Jimm Phillips, Post reporter at the Washington Monument


10:39 a.m.

Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow has compiled photos of the shuttle flying over Washington. The shuttle is now about 20 miles from downtown D.C.


10:35 a.m.

Discovery’s flyover is causing large groups of people to stop what they’re doing, stand outside, and crane their necks skyward. And it’s making for an unusual sight.


A crowd watches the shuttle fly-over in Farragut Square. (Christopher Stanford - The Washington Post)


10:24 a.m.

The Discovery has completed its final pass over the Mall and will now head to Dulles airport.


10:22 a.m. | Dispatches from the scene

Dozens of Congressional staffers and members of Congress spontaneously spilled out onto the porticoes and balconies of the U.S. Capitol to watch the space shuttle making a series of spectacular passes down the mall.

In the crowd on the Speaker’s Balcony was a sashed beauty queen and two women who appeared to be Cindy and Robert McCain, the wife and mother of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

A cheer went up as the shuttle passed low overhead for the first time. “Good thing Obama cut NASA,” one staffer muttered.

“I’ll always remember this,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a member since 2009.

— Roz Helderman, Post reporter on Capitol Hill


10:19 a.m. | Dispatches from the scene

Rosslyn office workers, bicyclists and parents pushing strollers clogged the west end of Key Bridge as the shuttle passed overhead.

Cars pulled over mid-span, blocking traffic as drivers and passengers poked their heads out of sunroofs and windows to catch a glimpse.

Not everyone was amused. “You guys are stupid!” yelled a taxi driver, honking his way across the bridge.

— Emma Brown, Post reporter in Rosslyn


10:16 a.m.

The Discovery is expected to land at Dulles around 10:30 a.m.


10:09 a.m.

Reporter Ed O'Keefe reports that congressional staffers cheered on first sight of Discovery.


10:05 a.m.

The Discovery has been spotted over the National Cathedral in Northwest D.C. The shuttle is making four laps over the region before landing at Dulles.


10:02 a.m.

The space shuttle just flew over the Capitol, making another lap over the National Mall.


9:54 a.m. | Dispatches from the scene

With hundreds of people lined up along the bike path next to Reagan National Airport and cars filling parking lots along the George Washington Parkway, traffic has slowed to a crawl near Gravelly Point Park between the airport and the 14th Street bridge.

Onlookers dot the green slopes to the Potomac River near the LBJ Memorial Grove along the Parkway. Some cars have pulled off the parkway onto the grass in order to catch a view of the passing shuttle.

Workers crossed G.W. Parkway from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and bicyclists pulled off the bike path in order to catch a glimpse from the riverside.

— James Grimaldi, Post reporter at Gravelly Point Park


9:42 a.m.

Discovery has been spotted in Virginia.


9:40 a.m.

A Flickr group devoted to Discovery’s final flight to Dulles has popped up and it includes some beautiful images.


9:36 a.m.

Watch the shuttle fly-over live:


9:26 a.m.

Post reporter Jacqueline Trescott (@jtrescott) reports that there are a few onlookers are braving a fierce wind to watch the fly-over from the Memorial Bridge.


9:20 a.m.

The Discovery is now expected to appear in Washington skies starting in about 10 minutes.


9:00 a.m.

The space shuttle Discovery will complete its trip up the eastern seaboard Tuesday morning, appearing over the Washington area piggy-backing on a 747.

According to the Washington Airport Authority, the retired shuttle is running a half-hour ahead of schedule and will be visible over the region about 9:30 a.m.

Discovery will land at Dulles Airport and make its way to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center Center.

Stay with The Buzz for live updates from the scene throughout the morning. And make sure to share your shuttle sighting stories and #WelcomeDiscovery photos. See instructions below.

More on the Discovery:

Photos of the space shuttle Discovery.

An interactive graphic explains how Discovery will be flown to Washington on its carrier 747.

For details on how the Smithsonian plans to display Discovery, read this piece from the Sunday Post.

Shuttle workers leave their hearts with their beloved machine. Read their story.



Send us your #WelcomeDiscovery photos. If have an Instagram account, send a photo of the space shuttle’s arrival in D.C.by including #WelcomeDiscovery in your caption.

Also be sure to include your location either by adding it to the caption or, for advanced users, turning on geolocation. Finally, get credit for your photos by including your username in your caption like this: “by @tamaravaldez on Instagram.”

Using the tag #WelcomeDiscovery means you allow us to publish your photo on our site (photos are moderated and may not appear immediately).

If you don’t have an Instagram account, upload your photos in this gallery.

Discovery

GALLERY: Share your photos.

 

By and T.J. Ortenzi  |  11:43 AM ET, 04/17/2012

 
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