For at least the next three to five years — until commercial passenger craft are available in the United States — NASA astronauts will have to hitch rides aboard Russian Soyuz capsules to get to the International Space Station.
Smithsonian space shuttle curator Valerie Neal lobbied for years to get the shuttle with the most history. She knew Discovery had logged the highest miles, completed every type of mission and had the distinction of being the first flown by a black commander and the first flown by a female pilot.
"It just has such a rich history," Neal said. "It's the champion of the shuttle fleet."
Borenstein reported from Washington. AP Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn in Cape Canaveral, Fla., contributed to this report.
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