Discovery Makes Successful Landing at Kennedy Space Center
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Space shuttle Discovery glided in for a landing at 9:08 a.m. at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, wrapping up its supply mission to the International Space Station.
The crew returned to Earth on a track that carried the shuttle over much of America's heartland for only the second time since the 2003 Columbia disaster.
"Wheels stop, Discovery," Rick Sturckow in Mission Control radioed from Houston. "Welcome home, Dex. Congratulations to you and the crew on an outstanding mission."
"It was a great mission," Discovery commander Alan Poindexter replied. "We're glad that the International Space Station is stocked up again."
Discovery also brought home two tons of used equipment and science supplies in the Leonardo supply module.
Loud cloud cover blocked Discovery's planned return Monday and forced a wave-off of its first landing attempt Tuesday. But the clouds broke and Discovery was given the go-ahead early Tuesday to begin the hourlong plunge that broke its speed from 17,500 mph to 225 mph at touchdown on KSC's runway 33.
Tuesday morning's landing took the shuttle over Vancouver, northeast Washington, across Kansas to northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma and, finally, over Florida east of Gainesville and west of Jacksonville.
The crew included pilot Jim Dutton and mission specialists Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki.
There are only three shuttle flights remaining before the fleet's planned retirement later this year. Kennedy Space Center workers are planning to roll space shuttle Atlantis out to the launchpad later Tuesday ahead of its planned May 14 mission.