Space shuttle missions came to an end in 2011, it's true, but that doesn’t mean that the shuttles have stopped flying.Space shuttles Discovery, Enterprise and Endeavour will each take to the air one final time in 2012, bound for their retirement destinations aboard a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, a modified Boeing 747 jet.
The trio will travel piggyback on NASA 905, the first of two SCAs NASA acquired during the Space Shuttle Program. NASA 905 has been assigned to 65 ferry missions.Discovery's trip from Kennedy to Washington Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Va., is planned for April 17. NASA 905 will arrive in Florida a week before to allow plenty of time for mate/demate operations with the spacecraft.
NASA's specially trained SCA pilots and flight engineers keep their skills sharp with practice flights in an SCA about every three weeks and simulator training twice a year.Pilot Jeff Moultrie will serve as the commander of the flight crew for Discovery's ferry flight and will deliver 905 to Kennedy on April 10. He is prepared for any contingency.