WASHINGTON, April 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following are excerpts from remarks given by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver at the arrival of the space shuttle Discovery at Dulles International Airport on Tuesday, April 17:
"Discovery was the longest-serving veteran of NASA's space shuttle fleet. Her maiden voyage was in 1984. She flew 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.
"The space shuttles' 30-year history literally changed the world. Their greatest accomplishment and purpose, now complete, was the launch and construction of the ISS -- our science laboratory in space and our foothold to the rest of the solar system. Like all great accomplishments, these achievements came at a cost. When we lost the Challenger and Columbia flights and their brave crews, we re-dedicated ourselves to an even more meaningful and exciting future.
"Today, NASA is following through on this commitment by building on the successes of the past and learning from our failures. President Obama has set us on a course that will tap into the innovative spirit that has made this nation great. It will allow us to more fully utilize the ISS and explore farther than ever before -- to an asteroid and on to Mars. This shift will permit us to advance our technology, open new markets and create more American jobs, making our aerospace industry even more competitive and increasing our economic and national security.
"To those who say our best exploration days are behind us, I must disagree. While it is wonderful to reminisce about the past, NASA continues to focus on the future. You need only admire the amazing space shuttles and their accomplishments to realize the people, organizations and nation that created them have only just begun. Vehicles with names like Orion, Dragon and Dreamchaser are being built all across the country today. They will continue and expand on the space shuttle's many accomplishments.
"It is an honor to deliver Discovery to the Smithsonian today to share this national treasure with the nation -- telling not only the stories of the past, but ushering in the promise of the future."