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Shuttle tire.

Space Shuttle Tire

Field review by the editors.

New Milford, Connecticut

The Space Shuttle was an impressive and complex machine, but it wouldn't have returned to Earth safely without the humble tire. The Shuttle Discovery landed more times than any other spacecraft -- 39! -- and although the Shuttle itself ended up in the Smithsonian, a Connecticut high school observatory snagged one of its tires for public display.

Mounted outside the school's observatory, the tire is flanked by signs that reveal its space geek stats. Shuttle tires were typically used only once, and this one -- one of over 200 flown during the Discovery's long years of service -- hit the pavement in the early morning hours of February 21, 1997, after traveling over 4.1 million miles in space.

Touchdown photo sign.

Unlike the look-but-don't-touch Shuttle, the tire provides a rare opportunity for space history intimacy, and can be hugged, reverently caressed, or even captured in a high butt orbit for photos.

Space Shuttle Tire

John J. McCarthy Observatory

388 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT
John J. McCarthy Observatory. South of town. From US-202/Danbury Rd turn west into the south entrance of New Milford High School. Drive straight to the back, then turn left. You'll see the tire in front of the small Observatory on the right.
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