Look! It's a bird…it's a plane…it's Discovery!

Yesterday the mainstream media, bloggers, photographers, Twitterers such as @Siouxsie212 who snapped the photo above (hashtag #SpotTheShuttle), and DC-area residents all craned their necks upward and pointed their Instagram-ready smartphones and DSLRs up into the sky to capture the space shuttle Discovery heading to its retirement home at the Smithsonian. Piggybacking on top of a proud Boeing 747 airplane–a slightly more glamorous passenger than grouchy folks you find on the average 747 jaunt–the space shuttle is probably the coolest bird humans have ever invented. And if you disagree with me, I’m positive we can’t be friends. Discovery, as the oldest and most traveled of the NASA space shuttles, rules the roost (the SR-71, Concorde, and Kitty Hawk belong in this flock, as well). It was an exciting day for kids and adults alike both on the ground and on the Intertubes. At the same time, it felt bittersweet. It marks the end of an era of big dreams and causes beyond our narrow lives. I’m actually pissed. I want us out there in space. I want my vacation on a terraformed Mars. I want to get my investments in on drilling for minerals on asteroids. I want to experience the same groovy, psychedelic trip across the galaxy like the ones undertaken by Dr. David Bowman in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway in CONTACT. My rant aside, in case you missed the Discovery event, here are some of the more interesting links from yesterday as well as relevant ones I’ve had bookmarked for you to “discover.”

Great photos of Discovery getting prepped and mounted on the modified 747. In your best Beavis & Butthead voice: “Huhhh huhhh…mounted…huhh.”

Watch the video of Discovery’s take-off from Cape Canaveral in Florida for its 39th and final mission. It was always a dream of mine to go witness one of these in person. Dreams dashed. Damn you politicians!

Explore Discovery’s flight deck in this neat 360-degree panoramic, interactive 2.74-gigapixel image photo over at National Geographic.

Get goosebumps like I did watching Discovery fly past the Washington Monument during its final descent yesterday.

Dope Instagram photo by Adam Wells.

Before the retired shuttles are shipped off like the Discovery, they underwent an autopsy (which reads like a new primetime medical drama for geeks like myself).

Jose Hernandez, a San Joaquin Valley congressional candidate and former Discovery astronaut is being swift-boated: “a Sacramento law firm is asking a judge to block Hernandez from describing himself as an “astronaut/scientist/engineer” on the June ballot.” Politics sucks. Politics, which can be defined as a means to resolve the conflict over the distribution of resources, is what is preventing me from vacationing on Mars!

This video went viral earlier last month but in honor of the end of NASA’s space shuttle program, Raul Oaida sent this brilliant LEGO space shuttle model attached to a balloon into space on the last day of 2011. Launched from Germany, it reached a maximum altitude of 35,000 meters.

The x-ray telescope used on the space shuttle Columbia is available on eBay for $7,000,000. I’d totally get it but the shipping and handling is a complete deal breaker.

It’s a sobering memory, but interesting from an artistic point-of-view: Brock David recreated the now-familiar image of the Challenger explosion using cauliflower. Yup, cauliflower.

If you thought the buzz yesterday over Discovery wasn’t loud enough, wait until the space shuttle Enterprise makes its way to its final resting place in New York City on April 23rd. The echo chamber that is this city of mine might cause Twitter to explode that day (it’s aggrandizing statements like this which exactly proves my point about how the New York media and blogosphere will react).