US space shuttle, Discovery, has landed safely at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, bringing its 27-year flying career as the world’s most-traveled spaceship to a close. Discovery is NASA’s oldest shuttle, and has flown 39 missions during the past 3 decades. The final mission added 13 days to its lifetime total of an entire year in space.
The astronauts onboard were successful in delivering and installing a new storage compartment, complete with a humanoid robot. Now back at the Kennedy Space Center, Discovery will be decommissioned over the coming months, and sent to the Smithsonian for display. NASA has been directed to spread its wings beyond the low-Earth orbit, with the goal of sending astronauts to an asteroid .. and then Mars .. in the near future.
But there’s not enough money in the pot for NASA to achieve that while maintaining the shuttle program. So, after 30 years, NASA shuttles will stop flying this summer. American astronauts will get to the space station by hitching rides on Russian Soyuz capsules, until private companies are able to provide taxi services to and from orbit.