Here is a look back at the oldest surviving shuttle before it launches on its final mission to orbit the earth.
Here are some facts about the Discovery provided by NASA:
Discovery was NASA's third space shuttle orbiter to join the fleet at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Discovery also is known inside the space agency by its designation Orbiter Vehicle-103, or OV-103.
Construction of Discovery began on Aug. 27, 1979 and was completed four years later.
Discovery rolled out of the assembly plant building in Palmdale, Calif., October 1983 and was first launched Aug. 30, 1984.
When first flown, Discovery became the third operational orbiter, and it currently is the oldest orbiter in service.
It was named after two historic, Earth-bound exploring ships of the past. One was a vessel used by Henry Hudson in the early 1600s to explore the Hudson Bay and search for a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The other was one of two ships used by the British explorer James Cook in the 1770s. Cook's voyages in the South Pacific led to the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. Another of his ships was the Endeavour, the namesake of NASA’s newest shuttle.
Discovery has had many notable flights and was the Return to Flight shuttle following both the Challenger and Columbia accidents. Discovery is targeted to liftoff on its final mission, STS-133, on Nov. 1, 2010. It will be the first space shuttle retired from NASA's fleet.