Monday, July 17, 2006

Welcome Home Discovery

Watch the landing
(wmv 11mb file)

--Space shuttle Discovery and its crew of six landed safely Monday, wrapping up a successful mission that put NASA back in the space station construction business.
Discovery touched down on the Kennedy Space Center runway around 9:14 a.m. EDT.

Mission Control had waited until almost the last minute before notifying the astronauts that the weather was good enough to come home.
A last-minute buildup of clouds shortly afterward prompted NASA to switch the shuttle's landing direction. Officials at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in eastern North Carolina also said they had been alerted for emergency landing duty as a precaution.

The shuttle, with commander Steven Lindsey and co-pilot Mark Kelly at the controls, plunged out of orbit an hour before touchdown with the firing of the braking rockets, and began the hourlong descent. The flight path had the spacecraft coming in from the south, swooping over the Pacific, Yucatan Peninsula, Gulf of Mexico and across Florida to cap a 5.3 million-mile journey that began on the Fourth of July.

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