posted on Jul, 6 2006 @ 06:24 PM
In case no one else has addressed this-
Discovery is always the return to flight vehicle, even if other orbiters are refurbed and ready. Discovery is chosen for the higher orbit missions
and important payloads like Hubble and TDRS satellites... Discovery was chosen on several occasions for DoD payloads that yet remain undisclosed.
It's not the newest, but it's the newest of the first production run (pre-Endeavor) of the shuttle fleet... Challenger was noted to be the best
handling (aerodynamically), Columbia was regarded as a 'hot rod', and endeavor is the lightest and most robust, with newer systems (not counting the
upgrades the whole fleet got in the last ten years)... Atlantis and Discovery were always just assumed mediocre vehicles.
Does it have an extra little kick? Al-Ti-Ni superalloys? Voodoo thermal protection systems?
If there are any supporting or denouncing arguments or articles... please post 'em.
[edit on 7/6/2006 by aerospace]