Boeing 747 Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

The modified-Boeing 747, known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), touched down at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on april 10.

The jumbo jetliner came in from Dryden Flight Research Center in California to ferry Discovery to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where the iconic spacecraft is set to go on public display. The aircraft landed at 5:35 p.m. EDT (2135 GMT) on the same runway that Discovery used to return from space for a 39th and final time on March 9, 2011. In the year since, technicians have prepared the shuttle Discovery for its exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. The orbiter’s hazardous materials were removed and some components, such as its three main engines, were replaced with replicas so they could be kept for possible future reuse. On April 14 shuttle technicians will use a steel gantry-like structure called the Mate-Demate Device to hoist Discovery and secure it atop the 747 SCA. Weather permitting, the paired air- and space-craft will leave for Washington Dulles International Airport on the morning of April 17. The SCA will take to the air on what will be its 806th flight in service to NASA, 218 with a shuttle on its back, and 38th trip carrying Discovery , and fly south. The exact flight plan is weather contingent, but once over the nation’s capital, the SCA will fly Discovery about 1,500 feet above various parts of Washington. According to the Smithsonian, the 747-Discovery combo is expected to make a low fly-by of the airport at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), and will touch down about 40 minutes later. The SCA is expected to roll to a stop on the tarmac just before 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).