This book places Space Shuttle Discovery within the history of the space shuttle program and provides an introduction to space shuttle technology, with a focus on the orbiter itself. Discovery's unique history is presented mission by mission that includes a brief narrative of each mission, a chart of its key statistics (dates, duration, altitude, payloads, etc.), each mission's patch with an explanation of its unique symbolism, a crew portrait, and two to four iconic photos that capture the distinct activities and successes of each mission. The book also features anecdotes and memories of several astronauts who flew on Discovery, as well as its modernization over the years and its final preparation for retirement at the Smithsonian.
Valerie Neal is curator for human spaceflight in the Space Shuttle and International Space Station era at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Before joining the Smithsonian, she worked with NASA on early shuttle missions. She now curates exhibitions at the NASM and oversees more than 1,500 artifacts, principal among them the orbiter Discovery, which is housed in the NASM's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in northern Virginia. She lives in Washington, D.C.