Why Space Shuttle Discovery Is "Machine With Personality"
The craft's landing after an 11-day mission "will be emotional," expert says.
Named after a series of historic exploration ships, Discovery made its maiden voyage into space on August 30, 1984. Since then it's logged the most flight hours of any space shuttle in NASA's fleet: Discovery has flown 38 missions into space and spent 351 days in orbit so far.
Over the years the spaceship has earned a reputation among historians and shuttle enthusiasts as the "dependable older sibling" of the shuttle fleet.
"Its legacy is that it is the reliable workhorse," said Robert Pearlman, editor of the space history and artifacts website collectSPACE.com.
"Whenever it's been called into service, it's performed."
"When the first space shuttle was introduced in 1981, it was meant to be an extremely