The Retirement of Space Shuttle Discovery

by Marilyn J Muir, LPMAFA

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Yesterday was one of those amazing days we occasionally encounter or participate in. I watched the transport of Space Shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Center to its new home at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. I had hoped to see the piggy-back plane ride live from my front yard, but they flew too low with too many clouds and trees in my way. I zipped back and forth from my television to my yard and got just as inspired by the lift-off and landing as if I had witnessed it live. I watched history being made. I have had the good fortune of watching several lift-offs of rockets and shuttles plus one piggy-back shuttle return over the last few years and I will tell you it psyches me out! Humanity does a lot of things wrong, but we do some things so very right!

I watched and the astrologer in me timed everything accurately; then I went searching for the birth chart data for Discovery and found it. Remember that the maiden flight for a plane can occur for a test flight, a delivery, a timed and planned maiden flight, etc. The space shuttles do not have those prerogatives. The space shuttle cannot take off on its own – it needs to be atop a rocket, and they have to get it right the first time. All other transport is with the shuttle strapped to the top of a jumbo 747 much like a child riding its parent’s back. So…since the first rocket launch occurred August 30, 1984 at 8:41:50 am EDT according to the website, that is the maiden flight. My astrologer’s heart thrilled that the event was timed to the second!

Over the years, I have done a lot of work on the shuttle tragedies and it seemed to me that the successful retirement of a hard-working shuttle might be a good change of pace. What would retirement look like? The standard procedure is required: natal, progressed to date of retirement, retirement as an event or a diurnal. For this article, I chose the event chart because both event and diurnal would be redundant, and we will have enough numbers with which to work. I set each chart individually, then did a tri-wheel with my new handy-dandy Time Cycles IO program (I have a Mac). So fast and easy, made me giggle. I have spent an incredible number of hours doing these things by hand. Think of how many more charts I can do with the time I save!

Discovery’s maiden flight had a lovely Venus/Ascendant in Virgo tight conjunction, which I do believe served as a protective influence. This shuttle retired – it did not explode. Its chart was strong with conjunctions: Mercury/Sun in Virgo, Moon in Libra with Pluto in Scorpio, Neptune in Sagittarius with Jupiter in Capricorn, Mars and Uranus in Sagittarius. In addition, there are Virgo and Sagittarius stelliums. To me, this is a very powerful chart with the stelliums and the multiple conjunctions. Discovery completed 39 flights successfully, so something was really right with that birth chart. The planets that had to do with home, Neptune and Jupiter, were both conjunct the natal IC and trine the chart ruler Mercury and the Sun. The fact that the rulers of the IC would automatically be opposed to the MC was easily resolved by the trine to the ruler of the Gemini MC.

I look at the natal 12th house for retirement and that would be Virgo. Natal progressed to the event of retirement and transport to its final home in DC moved the natal chart ruler to 23 Vir 22, about 5.5˚ off the natal Ascendant, which is too wide for my tastes, but it put it within 3˚ of the progressed 12th cusp at 26 Vir 13 (still a little wide for me). What causes this discrepancy? I think it might be the fact that while Discovery will no longer soar into space and make new history, it will become a working exhibit of space flight and serve an educational function at its new home in the Smithsonian. I can see Virgo doing that duty quite willingly and Discovery will still be retired, but not quite!

A new four-planet stellium in Scorpio and three planet stellium in Sagittarius dominates the progressed chart. Pluto, Uranus, and the Moon are conjunct in Scorpio within two degrees with Saturn a distant fourth. Uranus is separated from the later Mars/Neptune conjunction in Sagittarius. Progressed Jupiter is still reasonably close to Neptune, which is still at its natal position to the minute. There are two squares in the progressed chart: Mercury to the Mars/Neptune conjunction and Sun to Jupiter. For a workhorse such as Discovery, retirement will not be as exciting as space exploration. If this were a human and not a machine, I might think that even the difficult aspects are just not that difficult. We should add the Pluto / Venus / Moon in Scorpio sextile Jupiter in Capricorn as a mitigating factor. Not a bad retirement chart.

What about the transport chart…the piggy-back flight the world witnessed yesterday (April 17, 2012)? The fly-by over the Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Air Force Base was pure nostalgia. Your heart swelled and your throat closed up as you dealt with the emotional ending to an era. The fly-bys over Washington, D.C. with its historic monuments were truly spectacular. Thousands of citizens got to see the incredible majesty of the huge 747 transport carrying and displaying the pride of the space fleet. I was so moved by the whole process and so proud of such a spectacular human achievement.

The Ascendant/Sun conjunction has passed the opposition to retrograde Saturn, a releasing moment freeing Discovery from its past. Lovely! Flight Mars, the chart ruler has moved one minute past the conjunction to the natal chart ruler Mercury. Again, a moment in time where the present became the past and the future opened. Flight Mercury is at 00 Aries, indicating a new beginning and is moving to a conjunction with Uranus and a possibly new and exciting futuristic concepts. The Smithsonian may come up with some revolutionary new ideas as time progresses through 5ˆof orb.

The tri-wheel is set with the maiden flight as the base chart, the middle wheel is the progression and the outside wheel is the transport flight itself. Look at the stelliums in the collective 2nd and 3rd houses, the intrinsic material and cultural value and the transportation/education houses. The natal Virgo stellium is easily visible and much of Discovery’s life was prepare and wait, typical of 12th house energies. I see the 12th house as our second wind, when we reach back inside ourselves and find that ability to try one more time. Keeping with the natal and the progressions, the transport chart sports an Aries stellium signifying new beginnings. This take-off was right at sunrise, As I said, I was outside watching for a visual as soon as the plane left the ground.

For those who are interested, the actual landing was at 11:05 am at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. Reportedly Discovery will be available for display by the end of this week.

Space Shuttle Discovery retires:

Note: Discovery progression retirement chart as originally published had a type on the date.  It has been corrected here to Apr 17, 2012.

Published on AFA Today’s Astrologer Apr 2012, v74#4, republished with slight editing.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.