House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX), along with several Members of the Committee, today attended the STS-133 mission launch, representing the final mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Chairman Hall made the following statement:
"It was an honor to be able to lead a Congressional delegation to witness the final launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and to share the excitement of human spaceflight with my House colleagues. Our nation's shuttle program has been a point of pride for the last thirty years, ferrying astronauts into earth orbit to build and utilize the International Space Station, and launching a multitude of scientific satellites that have expanded our knowledge of the universe. The Space Shuttle is a truly remarkable capability that will be missed after it is retired. Including today's mission, Discovery has flown a total of 39 times, more than any other shuttle. I salute the six brave astronauts led by Commander Steve Lindsey, as they depart on this historic mission."
Discovery flew its maiden voyage on Aug. 30, 1984, on the STS-41D mission. Later missions included NASA's return to flight after the loss of Challenger (September 1988) and Columbia (July 2005), launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in April 1990, the final Shuttle/Mir docking mission in June 1998 and Senator John Glenn's shuttle flight in October 1998.
The STS-133 mission will feature two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components. Two more flights to the station are planned after STS-133, before the shuttles are retired later this year.