April 20, 2010

Shuttle Discovery Landing A Success

Following a pair of aborted attempts on Monday, the Space Shuttle Discovery completed landing procedures at the Kennedy Space Center early Tuesday morning, successfully touching down at the Florida-based NASA facility at 9:08am EDT.

It was the 129th shuttle landing, according to NASA.

Discovery launched on April 5, travelling en route to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of shuttle mission STS-131, the 33rd such journey to the space station. The shuttle crew, led by Commander Alan G. Poindexter, reached the ISS on April 7 and while there, delivered a logistics module filled with food, supplies, and other gear to the space station. They also returned a refurbished ammonia tank to the station, though technical issues prevented them from fully installing it.

On April 17, Discovery undocked from the ISS and began the return flight home.

On Monday, the crew was scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, but cloudy conditions and rain in the area delayed touchdown until today. The Discovery crew completed deorbit burn procedures to slow the craft down shortly after 8:00am EDT, allowing the crew to begin their decent.

According to NASA's website, the landing took Discovery "over Vancouver, northeast Washington, near Helena, Montana, over central Wyoming, across Kansas to northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma, north of Little Rock, Arkansas, over Oxford, Mississippi, near Montgomery, Alabama, north of Albany, east of Valdosta and south of Columbus, Georgia, and, finally, over Florida east of Gainesville and west of Jacksonville."

Joining Poindexter on the STS-131 crew were Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. and Mission Specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Clayton Anderson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. They will be the final seven-person shuttle crew, as only three shuttle missions remain before the program is permanently shelved later on in the year.


Image Caption: Space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing the STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA TV


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