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Congress

Shuttle Fly-By Brings Washington to a Halt

The Space Shuttle Discovery passes low over the Capitol. (Chet Susslin)

April 17, 2012

Think Washington doesn't care about space? Think again.

A farewell fly-by of the space shuttle Discovery brought the capital to a halt on Tuesday.

Traffic backed up on bridges across the Potomac, staffers flocked onto the lawns outside the Capitol and Pentagon staffers piled out onto parade grounds to gawk as a NASA 747 with the now-retired shuttle circled around Washington landmarks for a good half-hour.

It was the kind of public relations display that NASA excels at. Perfect timing -- later this month the senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up NASA's spending bill for 2013. The space agency is likely to get cut, but it won't go down without a fight.

Discovery will be on display at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy museum near Dulles airport outside Washington.

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