KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - Space shuttle Discovery will make one final pass -- atop a modified jumbo jet -- over Central Florida early Tuesday before heading north into retirement.
The orbiter, known as OV-103, was hoisted Sunday onto the 747 that will deliver it to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udzar-Hazy Center. The work had originally been scheduled for Saturday but was delayed a day due to high winds.
Now that it's firmly in place, next up is an early Tuesday morning departure for Dulles International Airport. From there, Discovery will be towed into the Smithsonian annex, where it will join an illustrious collection of aerospace and aviation artifacts.
But before it gets there, Central Floridians will have a chance to spot the shuttle in the sky.
Early departure: About 7 a.m. Tuesday, the ferry flight will take off from Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility.
Beach flyover: Weather permitting, NASA says the modified 747 with Discovery will fly at about 300 feet over KSC Visitor Complex's rocket garden, head south along the beaches, turn at Patrick Air Force Base, then head back north up the beaches toward KSC before departing the vicinity.
Where to spectate: Officials said the KSC Visitor Complex will be one of the best places to see Discovery. The visitor complex opens at 5 a.m. Tuesday but officials said residents should be able to see the shuttle from various places along the coast. Tickets are also on sale at KSC to sit near the runway where Discovery will take off.
Astronaut Steve Lindsey was commander of Discovery's final mission in February 2011.
"I think it's been more bitter than it is sweet, just because Discovery is going away," Lindsey said. "The shuttle program for 30 years has meant so much to everybody."
Lindsey said although he is sad it's the end of an era, he's hopeful for the KSC future.
"Hopefully we'll continue the space station, continue exploration, get the SLS going and eventually go interplanetary again," Lindsey said. "I'm hopeful our nation has the will to continue that."
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