Discovering Discovery

Flyover is one of many ways for public to reconnect with engineering.

Residents around the Washington, D.C., metro area got a rare scientific treat Tuesday morning as the Space ShuttleDiscoverywas ferried on the back of a 747 from Florida to its new, permanent home at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

It’s not every day so many people outside of Central Florida get to see a space shuttle soar through the air. (Watch the video.)

That kind of exposure is the kind of event that stays with impressionable young people despite being the end of a technologically important era, says NSPE President Chris Stone, P.E.

“It’s events like these that will hopefully stick in the minds of our nation’s students and point them in the direction of pursuing a career in engineering,” Stone says. “We should remember this historic event and lament the end of this important and groundbreaking program that gave so much back to the American public in the form of scientific discovery and engineering innovation.”

Reaction across the city on the shuttle’s arrival was encouraging, especially for a contentious town like Washington, says Randy Atkins, spokesman for the National Academy of Engineering.

“While it is bit sad to see this engineering marvel retired, and to realize that we all take many engineering achievements for granted, today’s excitement shows there’s still hope that the public’s imagination can be captured by the grand challenges for engineering that lie in our future and that we can turn dreams into reality.”

Washington isn’t the only city that gets to see the spectacle. Flyovers are planned in New York City and Los Angeles for the shuttlesEnterpriseandEndeavour, respectively, as those two shuttles are installed at museums in those cities. ShuttleAtlantiswill remain at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA retired its shuttle fleet afterAtlantistouched down to Earth in July 2011.

Published April 17, 2012 by NSPE

Filed under: Space Shuttle Discovery,

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