COCOA BEACH, Florida - In what would be a heartbreaking moment for many Space Coast residents, the Space Shuttle Discovery made one last piggy-back ride fly-over Brevard County, Florida on April 17, 2012 before leaving for the National Aeronautics and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Another chapter in the history of the Space Shuttle Program closed when Discovery's heat shields were aglow, not from orbital re-entry, but from the morning sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean as it flew parallel to the beach.
The Space Shuttle Discovery departed from Kennedy Space Center at 7:00 a.m. and flew south to Patrick Air Force Base. Then, the modified 747 turned north and flew over the Shuttle Landing Facility in Merritt Island, Florida at approximately 7:20 a.m. for one final time before flying to Washington, D.C.
Discovery's first launch from Kennedy Space Center was on August 30, 1984. Over the following twenty-seven years, Discovery would launch and land 39 times, garnering more spaceflights than any other spacecraft in space history.
Discovery's final launch from Kennedy Space Center was on February 24, 2011 and touched down for the final time at KSC's Space Shuttle landing facility on March 9, 2011.