Sunday, September 13, 2009

Discovery ends ISS mission in Mojave Desert


The Discovery space shuttle has successfully touched down after its return from the International Space Station (ISS) was temporarily delayed by poor weather conditions and a close call with some potentially problematic orbiting space junk.

However, while the shuttle is now safely back on terra firma, the enforced 24-hour delay left NASA with little option but to divert the landing of its stalwart orbiter from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Landing smoothly on Runway 22 at Edwards on Friday, the shuttle’s arrival ended NASA’s latest supply and maintenance mission to the ISS, during which the shuttle delivered some nine tons of equipment and a fresh crewmember for the orbiting scientific team.

The U.S. space administration opted for a landing at its Mojave Desert back-up strip after Entry Flight Director Richard Jones deemed persistently poor weather conditions in Florida to be too much of an issue.

“Welcome home, Discovery,” trumpeted Colonel Eric A. Boe of the U.S. Air Force as the shuttle rolled to a stop at Edwards. “Congratulations on an extremely successful mission, stepping up science to a new level on the International Space Station.”

While docked with the ISS, the crew of the Discovery completed three space walks, and delivered a sample freezer, a sleep station, and a carbon dioxide removal system. They also helped install a new ammonia coolant tank, retrieve two external experiments, and paved the way for the arrival of a new crew module in 2010.


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