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National Air and Space Museum Announces Plans for Welcome Space Shuttle Discovery Event

he Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is offering a series of activities to celebrate the acquisition of the space shuttle Discovery. The event will begin when the orbiter arrives in the Washington metro area Tuesday, April 17, weather permitting. Discovery will be transferred from NASA to the museum in a public ceremony April 19 at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy center in Chantilly, Va. The ceremony will kick off a four-day festival of space-related activities, performances, appearances by space pioneers, films and displays.

The “Welcome Discovery” festival is presented in cooperation with NASA. Support for the transfer ceremony is generously provided by the Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. All activities are offered free of charge, but there is a $15 parking fee at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

There will be more than 25 special exhibits, programs and activities for every age group, from pre-K youngsters to older adults. The history and achievements of the 30-year space shuttle program will be showcased, with several Discovery space pioneers making special appearances to discuss their experiences. The festival will also focus on the future of space exploration. Activities will focus on current events on the International Space Station, how people are learning to live and work in space and preparation for journeys farther into the solar system. Many of the offerings will be interactive, enabling visitors to experience aspects of spaceflight and space sciences. Throughout the festival, specialists from the museum and NASA will be doing post-flight work on Discovery in the space hangar; the public is invited to watch and ask questions.

“When NASA transfers Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum, the American people will gain a major icon of space history and an educational treasure to be valued now and for years to come,” said Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, director of the museum. “We invite the public to help us welcome Discovery to the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.”

The National Air and Space Museum operates two buildings in the Washington, D.C., area: the flagship building on the National Mall and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., near Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

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