OV-103 - Discovery / by Darrell Chan

Some of you might know this already, but I'm a huge geek when it comes to aerospace. You know those Wikipedia vortexes that just seem to consume your life? Well it seems to happen to me all the time. Most recently, I've been reading about new commercial aircraft like Boeing's 777-9x and Space X's Falcon 9 rocket that they just sent into space.

American Airlines Boeing 737 taking off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

My upbringing is mostly to blame for all this fascination, I'm sure. My brother and I would watch loads of Star Trek when we were little and make starships out of Legos. My dad would take me to air shows to see fighter jets. I even attended Buzz Aldrin Elementary School (got to meet the guy quite a few times!) where we had science projects dedicated to things like colonizing Mars. We even got to talk to astronauts in real time while they were in orbit!

Those things, however, all passed with time as I got older. But one thing has stayed pretty consistent since my childhood days. Ever since I was little, my favorite Smithsonian museum was always the Air & Space Museum. Every year or two, we'd drive into the city to see what the newest exhibits were and to play with all the interactive demos they had. One of the oldest photos I have of myself was taken in front of a stormtrooper at the Star Wars exhibit!

Underside of the Space Shuttle Discovery

This year, I took my relatives to the Air & Space museum out near Dulles (where they filmed part of the second Transformers movie) and for the first time saw the Space Shuttle Discovery. I had been to the museum many times before, but only saw the Enterprise, which had never actually flown in space.

These tiles are what kept the Discovery from burning up in the atmostphere

You wouldn't think there would be much of a difference between the two. They were mostly the same design and looked almost exactly alike. But if you get closer and closer, you start seeing all these tiny details that make you wonder how that thing even survived going to space and back 39 times.

It's sad to thing that the Space Shuttle program has now been retired, but I'm definitely excited with new developments happening now. NASA, Space X, and even Virgin Galactic are making some pretty bold statements with their plans over the next decade! Can't freaking wait.