Photography Magazine

Rockwell International OV-103 Discovery / NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (B747-100)

By Htam

Space Shuttle Discovery,@ Kennedy Space Center, FL

April 2012

One last flight into the history books, Orbiter Vehicle “Discovery” makes a low pass over the Kennedy Space Center before heading North to her new home at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C.  The third of five operational orbiters to be built, over 27 years of service it launched and landed 39 times, gathering more spaceflights than any other spacecraft to date. In 1974, NASA procured this 747-100 from American Airlines for use as a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). Flying with the additional drag and weight of the Orbiter imposed significant performance penalties. The range was reduced from 5,500 nautical miles to 1,000, requiring an SCA to stop several times to refuel on a transcontinental flight. Without the Orbiter, the SCA needed to carry ballast to balance out its center of gravity. This SCA is now on display with the mockup Space Shuttle “Independence” at Space Center Houston. Canon G9 photo.

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