Space Shuttle Discovery Flies Low Over D.C. En Route To Smithsonian Retirement (PHOTOS)

WASHINGTON -- Flying from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Space Shuttle Discovery piggy-backed on a jumbo jet bound for Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Tuesday morning en route to retirement at the Smithsonian.

Since Discovery's exact flight plan was not released prior to its arrival in the D.C. region, it was hard to predict exactly when and where to to be in position to see the space shuttle.

But NASA said that places like the National Mall and Alexandria waterfront were good bets to spot the shuttle.

Downtown, people streamed southward mid-morning toward the Mall and Potomac waterfront as others flocked to office building roofs as reports that Discovery, which weighed roughly 700,000 pounds at takeoff, was making passes through the nation's capital.

The space shuttle's final home will be the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

As DCist reports, Discovery arrived about a half hour ahead of schedule.

"It was thrilling," Betty Ellis, who'd come to watch Discovery with some coworkers, told The Huffington Post on the Alexandria, Va., waterfront. Ellis had once seen a shuttle launch in Florida, but said this was better.

"We're hoping it comes back," said Jan McGinley, also watching from Alexandria.

It did. Twice more before 10:30 a.m. Which made Harold Doran, whose 40th birthday it was, very happy.

"It's a special celebration," he said.

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