Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Space Travel News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

US Shuttle Discovery makes historic last landing

File image of a shuttle landing.
by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral, Florida (AFP) March 9, 2011
The oldest and most traveled space shuttle, Discovery, landed back on Earth Wednesday after its final space flight and will now end its days as a museum piece to delight the crowds.

The shuttle cruised onto the runway at Kennedy Space Center at 1657 GMT, wrapping up a rich, 27-year career in spaceflight that has spanned more distance and endured longer than any of the remaining three US shuttles.

"And Houston, Discovery. For the final time, wheelstop," Commander Steve Lindsey said when the orbiter came to a halt on the runway.

Discovery's arrival back on Earth marks the beginning of the end for the three-decade old US shuttle program, which will formally close down after Endeavour and Atlantis take their final spaceflights in the coming months.

"This legend has spent 365 days in space," NASA mission control in Houston said, noting that over the course of its 39 missions, Discovery has logged almost 149 million miles (241 million kilometers).

Discovery's last trip to the International Space Station was initially scheduled to last 11 days but was extended to 13 so that astronauts could work on repairs and install a spare room.

The new permanent module they brought to the orbiting lab adds 21 by 15 feet (6.5 by 4.5 meters) of extra room for storage and experiments.

Astronauts also carried the first humanoid robot to the International Space Station (ISS), though it spent most of its time wrapped in packing materials and will not become fully operational for some time.

A NASA press conference to recap the mission is scheduled for 2:00 pm (1900 GMT).

Endeavour is set for its last trip into orbit beginning April 19, followed by the shuttle Atlantis on June 28, marking the last shuttle mission ever.

After that, the sole method of transport to and from the ISS will be via Russia's Soyuz space capsules, which can carry three people at a time.

Discovery has broken new ground multiple times since it first launched in 1984.

It transported the Hubble Space telescope, helped carry the Japanese Kibo lab to the ISS, was the first shuttle to be commanded by a female astronaut and the first to rendezvous with the Russian Mir Space Station.

The shuttle was also the first to return to space after two major disasters -- the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Columbia disaster in 2003 when the shuttle broke up on its return toward Earth.

On this mission, Discovery carried an all-American crew of six, including Lindsey, spacewalkers Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew, pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Nicole Stott and Michael Barratt.

"And to the ship that has led the way time and time again, we say farewell, Discovery," NASA's Kennedy Space Center said in a tweet.

One shuttle is already in a museum outside the US capital, Washington. Enterprise never flew in space but was developed as a prototype for the other five shuttles in the original fleet.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Shuttle at NASA
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Shuttle News at Space-Travel.Com

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

NASA green lights Discovery launch for Thursday
Cape Canaveral, Florida (AFP) Feb 23, 2011
NASA gave the green light for the space shuttle Discovery to blast off Thursday, saying the countdown to the aging shuttle's final mission before retirement was going "beautifully." Technical failures delayed Discovery's launch in November 2010, but sunny weather and smooth preparations gave engineers every indication that the 39th mission for the historic shuttle would proceed on schedule. ... read more

Indian Space Agency To Now Launch Three Satellites In April

New Dawn Arrives At Spaceport

ISRO Likley To Launch Resourcesat-2 In April

United Launch Alliance Launches Second OTV Mission

Some Of Mars' Missing CO2 May Be Buried

Testing Mars Missions In Morocco

Rover Snaps Close-Up of 'Ruiz Garcia'

Prolific NASA Orbiter Reaches Five-Year Mark

Astrobotic's Mission To The Moon Releases Guide For Payload Developers

China Expects To Launch Fifth Lunar Probe Change-5 In 2017

The Great Moonbuggy Race

Venus And Crescent Moon Pair Up At Dawn

Can WISE Find The Hypothetical Tyche In Distant Oort Cloud

Theory: Solar system has another planet

Launch Plus Five Years: A Ways Traveled, A Ways To Go

Mission To Pluto And Beyond Marks 10 Years Since Project Inception

Planetary Society Statement On Planetary Science Decadal Survey For 2013-2022

Report Identifies Priorities For Planetary Science 2013-2022

Meteorite Tells Of How Planets Are Born In A Swirl Of Dust

Planet Formation In Action

SpaceX Expanding Texas Operations

Andrews Space Awarded USAF Reusable Booster System Study Contract

World's Largest Rocket Production Base Takes Shape In North China

SwRI Signs Up For 8 Reusable Suborbital Launches

What Future for Chang'e-2

China setting up new rocket production base

China's Tiangong-1 To Be Launched By Modified Long March II-F Rocket

China Expects To Launch Fifth Lunar Probe Chang'e-5 In 2017

Dawn Gets Vesta Target Practice

A New Dawn Coming To Vesta

Hawaii Astronomers Keep Tabs On Asteroid Apophis

Abundant Ammonia In Ancient Asteroid

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement