This live feed from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida should get a lot more interesting a few minutes before 9 a.m. Pacific time today, when the Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to make its final landing — as long as the landing is a “go” when that decision is made around 7:30 a.m.
Apart from being Discovery’s final mission, the landing will get more than the usual amount of attention because of the competition among the nation’s museums to house and display the retiring shuttles. The Museum of Flight in Seattle is competing aggressively for one of the shuttles, as outlined in this recent New York Times report.
The Museum of Flight in Seattle has perhaps gone the furthest: this week, it erected the first wall of a new $12 million wing to house the shuttle it may never get. The museum’s “shuttle boosters” Web site argues that Seattle has “the right stuff” because the Boeing 747 was built there and 27 shuttle astronauts have called Washington home. (Officials at the Seattle museum say they have planned for the possibility of not getting a shuttle and would fill the space with other space artifacts.)
Discovery is assumed to be headed for the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., but the orbiters Atlantis and Endeavour are very much up for grabs.
Alan Boyle of msnbc.com has a great piece on what will happen to Discovery after it lands.