Discovery Lands Safely at Edwards

Discovery’s touchdown. Image credit: NASA Click to enlarge
Discovery glided to a pre-dawn landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California this morning concluding a journey of 5.8 million miles, touching down at 7:11 a.m. CDT.

The landing marked the sixth night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, and the 50th time overall that a Shuttle concluded its mission in the California desert.

Commander Eileen Collins and Pilot Jim Kelly, assisted by Mission Specialist Steve Robinson, began Discovery?s return to earth by firing the spacecraft’s orbital maneuvering system engines to slow its speed and begin its descent. Discovery’s ground track took it from the firing of the 2 minute, 42-second deorbit burn at 6:06 a.m. over the western Indian Ocean, traveling in a loop around Australia, then northeast across the Pacific, across the California coast north of Los Angeles and then to Edwards.

Persistent thunderstorms at the primary landing site in Florida resulted in a wave-off of two opportunities to return to the launch site today.

The STS-114 flight of Discovery with Collins, Kelly, Robinson and Mission Specialists Soichi Noguchi of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, Andy Thomas, Wendy Lawrence and Charlie Camarda provided unprecedented information on the condition of an orbiter in space. Noguchi and Robinson did three successful spacewalks at the International Space Station and Discovery transported tons of equipment and supplies to and from the Station.

From the Station, Commander Sergei Krikalev and NASA Science Officer John Phillips sent their congratulations to Discovery?s crew and the flight control team in Houston.

Discovery?s crew will have a welcome home ceremony at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Houston?s Ellington Field.

Original Source: NASA News Release