Discovery space shuttle
 

Discovery prior to docking with the International Space Station
 
First flown on August 30, 1984, Discovery is the third operational space shuttle, and the oldest remaining in service. She has performed both research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions.

The spacecraft takes her name from previous ships of exploration named Discovery, primarily HMS Discovery, the sailing ship that accompanied famous explorer James Cook on his third and final major voyage. Others include Henry Hudson's ship Discovery which he used in 16101611 to search for a Northwest Passage, and RRS Discovery, a vessel used for expeditions to Antarctica in 1901-1904 by Scott and Shackleton (and still preserved as a museum). The shuttle shares a name with Discovery One, the spaceship from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
 

Discovery as viewed from the International Space Station
 
Discovery was the shuttle that launched the Hubble Space Telescope. The second and third Hubble Space Telescope service missions were also conducted by Discovery. She has also launched the Ulysses probe and three TDRS satellites. Discovery has been chosen twice as the return to flight orbiter, first as the return to flight orbiter after the 1986 Challenger disaster in 1988, and as the orbiter for the return to flight mission in July 2005, after the 2003 Columbia disaster. Discovery also carried Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn, who was 77 at the time, back into space during STS-95 on October 29, 1998, making him the oldest human being to venture into space.
 

Rollout of the orbiter Discovery, 1998 (NASA)
 
STS-114 mission
 
On July 26, 2005 at 10:39 EDT, Discovery launched into space on mission STS-114, marking the first shuttle launch since the February 2003 Columbia Disaster. Videos taken during the minutes after the launch revealed that a piece of foam insulation came off Discovery's external fuel tank, although it apparently did not damage the shuttle. After the problem was discovered, NASA suspended all future launches until the problem is solved. During the mission astronauts repaired the suspected damaged spot on an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA).

Discovery was set to return on August 7, 2005, but their mission was extended due to unfavorable weather conditions. The shuttle returned from orbit on August 9, 2005, landing in darkness at 8:12 AM EDT just before dawn at Edwards Air Force Base after travelling 5.8 million miles.
 
Discovery landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10 AM, Monday, August 22. Discovery was flown from Edwards Air Force Base using one of NASA Boeing 747 Space Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. After landing, Discovery was lifted off the back of the 747 and then towed to the nearby Orbiter Processing Facility marking the end of STS-114. Here, Discovery will be emptied of its cargo from the International Space Station and will be readied for the next shuttle mission: STS-121.
 
Flights
 
Space Shuttle Discovery has flown 31 flights, spent 241.95 days in space, completed 3,808 orbits, and flown 98,710,673 miles (158,859,429 km) in total, as of July 2005.

Discovery is set for retirement in 2010.
STS-41-D: First Flight

STS-51-D: Carried first sitting United States congressman into space, Senator Jake Garn (R-UT)
STS-26: Return to space after Challenger disaster (STS-51-L)

STS-95: Second flight of John Glenn, oldest man in space

STS-114: Return to space after Columbia disaster (STS-107)
Date Designation Notes
1984 August 30 STS-41-D Launched two communications satellites, including LEASAT F2
1984 November 8 STS-51-A Launched two and rescued two communications satellites including LEASAT F1
1985 January 24 STS-51-C Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite
1985 April 12 STS-51-D Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F3
1985 June 17 STS-51-G Launched two communications satellites, Sultan Salman al-Saud becomes first Saudi Arabian in space
1985 August 27 STS-51-I Launched two communications satellites including LEASAT F4. Recovered LEASAT F3
1988 September 29 STS-26 Return to flight, launched TDRS
1989 March 13 STS-29 Launched TDRS
1989 November 22 STS-33 Launched DOD Magnum ELINT satellite
1990 April 24 STS-31 Launch of Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
1990 October 6 STS-41 Launch of Ulysses
1991 April 28 STS-39 Launched DOD Air Force Program-675 (AFP675) satellite
1991 September 12 STS-48 Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS)
1992 January 22 STS-42 International Microgravity Laboratory-1 (IML-1)
1992 December 2 STS-53 Department of Defense payload
1993 April 8 STS-56 Atmospheric Laboratory (ATLAS-2)
1993 September 12 STS-51 Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS)
1994 February 3 STS-60 Wake Shield Facility (WSF)
1994 September 9 STS-64 LIDAR In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE)
1995 February 3 STS-63 Rendezvous with Mir space station
1995 July 13 STS-70 7th Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)
1997 February 11 STS-82 Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
1997 August 7 STS-85 Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes
1998 June 2 STS-91 Final Shuttle/Mir Docking Mission
1998 October 29 STS-95 SPACEHAB, Second flight of John Glenn, Pedro Duque becomes first Spaniard in space
1999 May 27 STS-96 Resupply mission for the International Space Station
1999 December 19 STS-103 Servicing Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
2000 October 11 STS-92 International Space Station Assembly Flight
2001 March 8 STS-102 International Space Station crew rotation flight
2001 August 10 STS-105 International Space Station crew and supplies delivery
2005 July 26 STS-114 Return to flight, International Space Station supplies delivery, new safety procedures testing and evaluation