After a period of speculation, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has announced the details for the festivities surrounding the arrival of the space shuttle Discovery in Northern Virginia.
A few weeks ago it was announced the Discovery would be making its voyage from Kennedy Space Center on the back of a Boeing 747, and will arrive at Dulles International Airport, prior to being moved to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
It was noted the orbiter would do a fly-over the Washington metro area on Tues., Apr. 17 mid-morning. A public ceremony was scheduled to take place on Apr. 19, however no specifics were initially released.
This week details have now been shared about the festivities that will surround Discovery's arrival. According to a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum press release, the ceremony will be a four-day event filled with space-related activities, appearances by space pioneers, films, performances and displays. Some of the displays will be an interactive experience for visitors.
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a part of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
"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 museum and NASA are presenting the "Welcome Discovery" event together with financial support by Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Those in the vicinity of Washington D.C. will be able to see the arrival of Discovery, and people are being encouraged to participate in "Spot the Shuttle" on Apr. 17, including taking photos and sharing images and video on Twitter (hash tag #SpotTheShuttle), Facebook and Pinterest. The exact path the shuttle will be flying will not be publicized in advance, said the National Air and Space Museum. Details may be available the day of Discovery's arrival.
Those who register their name with the museum may potentially able to win one of the seats in the VIP section at the "Welcome Discovery" ceremony when the shuttle is officially transferred from NASA to the National Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center. The museum said on its website, "Watch this website on April 17 for instructions on how to participate."
In all, 25 special exhibits will be open to the public to explore the history and achievements of the 30-year space shuttle program. Events will continue through the weekend with activities geared towards students and families with children. Additional event details are outlined by the Smithsonian press release.
Locals are getting ready for the big event, as this has been a topic in the region since the news was first announced.
As Discovery makes its home at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the museum's current occupant, shuttle Enterprise, will be leaving Chantilly at a not yet announced date in April and moving to New York where it will be housed at The Intrepid Museum in New York City. Enterprise has been at the Udvar-Hazy Center since its opening in 2003.
Enterprise, the first Space Shuttle Orbiter, had been the centerpiece of the McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a part of the National Air and Space Museum. In 2012 the shuttle was moved to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.