The Space Shuttle Discovery sparkles with pride as it's unveiled to reporters before its final launch, later today. More gorgeous photos of the ship preparing for its last flight into the unknown, below.

In these photos, Discovery sits behind the protective rotating service structure on launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center November 3, 2010, in Cape Canaveral. If all goes well, Discovery will launch this afternoon at 3:29 PM EST, for its 39th and final mission. The launch comes after two delays, one caused by the failure of a back-up engine controller, during prelaunch checkouts.

According to CNN, this shuttle flew more missions than any other, and it also made history:

Discovery flew the first female shuttle pilot, the first African-American spacewalker and the first sitting member of Congress to go to space.


Photos by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images.

Q: What have we done?

A: What we always do, what we had to: Turn death into a fighting chance at life.