Space Shuttle Discovery Returns Home (Video)

There’s nothing prettier than watching the space shuttle land. Sure, it drops like a rock, a piano, a safe; but when the vehicle makes the final turn and lines up with the runway, and then the commander sticks the landing like Rick Sturckow did tonight, it’s a work of art. If you missed the landing in real time, here’s a great video of Discovery’s landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, at 5:53 PDT on Friday, ending the 14-day mission to the International Space Station.

Weather concerns prevented the crew from landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After the Discovery space shuttle is processed in California, in seven to 10 days the vehicle will be transported approximately 2,500 miles from California to Florida on the back of a modified 747 jumbo jet. Workers at KSC will then begin getting it ready for its next flight, targeted for March 2010.

STS-128 delivered two refrigerator-sized science racks to the International Space Station. One rack will be used to conduct experiments on materials such as metals, glasses and ceramics. The results from these experiments could lead to the development of better materials on Earth. The other rack will be used for fluid physics research. Understanding how fluids react in microgravity could lead to improved designs for fuel tanks, water systems and other fluid-based systems.

Sturckow was joined on the mission by Pilot Kevin Ford, Mission Specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang. NASA astronaut Nicole Stott flew to the complex aboard Discovery to begin a nearly three-month mission as a station resident, replacing Tim Kopra, who returned home on Discovery.

The next shuttle mission, STS-129, is scheduled for launch no earlier than November 12, 2009. Space shuttle Atlantis will deliver components to the ISS, including two spare gyroscopes, two nitrogen tank assemblies, two pump modules, an ammonia tank assembly and a spare latching end effector for Canadarm2, the station’s robotic arm.

10 Replies to “Space Shuttle Discovery Returns Home (Video)”

  1. Hi Nancy…
    That E, is an irr-elephant…
    Thanks for the video capture, y’all.
    Not having seen it in real time…it’s a most welcome treat, first thing, the morning after…

    Lovely. Welcome Home Discovery And Crew.

  2. It was just too late for me to watch it. I went to bed 5 min before the deorbit burn, I just couldn’t stay awake any longer.

    Thanks for posting the video!

  3. DrFlimmer, a real astronomer does not go to bed until after sunrise… and doesn’t get up until 2 o’clock in the afternoon!

  4. IVAN3MAN….

    I can report that my observations of my own sleeping schedule are in good agreement with yours to within at least a couple sigma ; ).

  5. Well, Ivan3man, I agree with you – a real astronomer wouldn’t do that! Too bad that I am from the “other” side and just a theoretical astrophysicist! I can keep my sleeping period almost (!!) parallel to the night.

    When I played “real” astronomer two years ago when I conducted some observations with colleagues as a practical course, I had exactly that sleeping period you described. And it was great fun!
    But it turns out that I prefer playing with formulae instead of IRAF.


  6. Thanks for the video.
    It’s painful to look at the rear tires at the moment of touchdown. I wonder how often they have to be replaced?

    And, the parachute, is it optional? I assume it supposed to work in conjunction with the brakes.

  7. @ reg

    And, the parachute, is it optional? I assume it supposed to work in conjunction with the brakes.

    IIRC, in the beginning the shuttles didn’t have a parachute. It was added to brake the shuttle down faster (I don’t know if the runway had been too short during the first landings 😉 ).

    Btw: I find it more painful to look at the seperation of the SRBs during launch. The explosions always let my heart stop when looked at from the ground.

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