A Photographic Adieu to the End of an Era

Discovery’s Final Launch

After 27 years of operation and 38 missions, the space shuttle Discovery embarked on its 39th, and final mission last Thursday. The shuttle is the world’s most traveled spaceship and has spent nearly a full year in orbit over its lifetime. Though it was a little premature considering there are still two remaining launches left this year before the program goes into mandatory retirement, we couldn’t ignore the wistful feelings that churned inside us watching Discovery fade into the stars. The wonder and magic of the shuttle was unquestionably influential in our childhood and our perception of America as pioneers of the universe. So we won’t deny the slight tug in our chests as we think about the next generation of kids, who will never know of the space shuttle, soaring on its pillars of fire and smoke.

And in case you were wondering what it looked like from a plane, lay eyes on the video after the jump.

Viewfinder is a series of captivating photos taken by the GP crew, culled from the web, dug out of our archives, or submitted by readers. These photos may or may not pertain to our regularly scheduled posts. Enjoy.