Discovery is the oldest Shuttle in the fleet, and this marks it's 39th and last flight. Up until now, it's spent 351 days in space, made 5,628 orbits, traveled 142,917,535 miles, and carried 246 crew personnel.
It docked once with the MIR, and 11 times before with the ISS, and was the Shuttle that originally deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.
I've never seen a Shuttle launch, but I've heard it on its way to land at Edwards AFB many times.
If you've never been at a rocket launch, it's something that film and video just can't capture. It's like the difference between seeing a Top Fuel dragster on TV, and being there in person, but much more intense. It's one of those experiences that you feel as much as you hear. For a long time, until I'd actually been to a launch, and I'm up to 16 launches now, I thought the 'crackling' noise you hear from the engines was just the microphones of the recording equipment being overloaded, but it's not. It's one loooong controlled explosion, like billions of firecrackers going off continuously until the rocket is far enough away that the sound just fades out. Truly amazing, and as somebody said once, "It makes you wonder where they find bolts strong enough to hold it all together!".
This is NOT the final Shuttle flight, however. There's one more *funded* mission on the books, STS-134, the last flight of Endeavour. It's been pushed back several times, and is now scheduled NET 19 April 2011. This is considered to be the last "official" Shuttle flight. The next flight, STS-135 would be the last flight of Atlantis, but AFAIK, it hasn't been funded. It's currently being prepped as STS-335, which would be a "Launch On Need" rescue mission for Endeavour, and the NASA managers have told their teams it will fly "regardless" of funding on what they call the "Continuing Resolution".
So, we'll have a Manned Space Program at least until April, and possibly through July.
After that, we're just cargo again, depending on the Russian Space Agency to deliver us to the ISS.
Yes, it's very sad.
God speed, Discovery.......