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Last Chance: Welcome Discovery Festival Events

The space shuttle Discovery will be flying into Dulles Airport on Tuesday, followed by events welcoming the shuttle to the Udvar-Hazy Center on Thursday, Friday and through the weekend.

TUESDAY - DISCOVERY LANDS

•  8 a.m.
– The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly will open its parking lot (and the McDonald’s) at 8 a.m. for those who want to watch the shuttle come into Dulles Airport from that location. The Smithsonian Institute says the parking lot will be the best location for watching. Bring a lawn chair and your breakfast. Parking is $15, the museum is free.
• 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. – The building will be open for regular hours, until 5:30 p.m. The Engen Observation Tower will be closed to the public. 
• 10 a.m. – The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747, will bring Discovery to Dulles International Airport between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The airplane will fly over the Washington D.C. area before landing. The Smithsonian Institute has a list of places people can go to try to spot the shuttle. Follow #SpotTheShuttle on Twitter to find others watching for Discovery.
• Note: The Discovery landing is weather dependent. 

THURSDAY - WELCOME DISCOVERY CELEBRATION

• 8 a.m. – The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will open its parking lot and building two hours early, at 8 a.m. McDonald’s will be open as well. Parking is $15, admission to the museum is free.
• 9 a.m. – The outside ceremony area will open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
• 11 a.m. – Discovery will arrive at the Udvar-Hazy Center for the transfer ceremony. Music will be performed by the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps. Discovery crew members will be in attendance. The space shuttles Discovery and Enterprise will be placed nose-to-nose.
• 11:30 a.m. – The transfer ceremony will begin. The National Anthem will be sung by mezzo soprano Denyce Graves. Speakers include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough, National Air and Space Museum Director Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey, Former Senator and Astronaut John Glenn, and Chair of Smithsonian Board of Regents France Córdova. A presentation of the orbiter’s achievements will be followed by the formal signing of the document transferring Discovery from NASA to the Smithsonian Institute.
• 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. – Attendees are invited to view the Discovery and the Enterprise and take photographs.
• 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. – Activities will be planned both inside and outside the museum. See the list here.
• 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. – The Engen Observation Tower will be open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. only.
• 4 p.m. – Watch the shuttles Discovery and Enterprise as they are moved. Discovery will be moved into the James S. MCDonnell Space Hangar for permanent display. Enterprise, will be taken to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, arriving at JFK Airport on April 23.
• 6:30 p.m. – The Udvar-Hazy center will close for the day, staying open one hour later than usual.

 

FRIDAY - STUDENT DISCOVERY DAY

• 8 a.m.
– The Discovery Members-Only Preview will invite visitors to be among the first to see Discovery in its new home at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Reservation is required. Click here for details.
• 10 a.m. – The building will be open regular hours on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Student activities end at 3 p.m. Parking is $15, admission to the museum is free.
• 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. – Students can take part in the second day of the Welcome Discovery festivities. Friday will feature scientists from NASA and astronauts presenting educational talks designed for students, such as Learn to Train Like an Astronaut. Educational activities will focus on science, technology education and math. See the full schedule here.

 

SATURDAY & SUNDAY - DISCOVERY FAMILY WEEKEND

• 10 a.m.
– The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will be open during its regular hours from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Family Weekend activities end at 3 p.m. each day. Parking is $15, admission to the museum is free.
• 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. – Saturday and Sunday will be filled with special exhibits, activities and more that were designed for families with children and parents of all ages. 
On exhibit will be the history and achievements of NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program, which began in 1981 and ended in 2011. The weekend will also feature what NASA is planning for the future of space exploration. Events will include activities that will happen on the International Space Station, how astronauts are learning to live and work in space, preparation for exploring further out into the solar system and more. 
During Family Weekend specialists from NASA and the Udvar-Hazy Center will perform work on Discovery. Attendees can watch the work being completed and ask questions. For a full list of activities, click here.

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