Discovery Space Shuttle Lands Successfully
Posted on August 10, 2005
A successful landing by the Discovery Space Shuttle on Tuesday brought a big sigh of relief around the world. Commander Eileen Collins seemed to echo what everyone was thinking when she said, "It's absolutely fantastic being back here on planet Earth." There were concerns early on in the mission that the shuttle had damaged some of the important heat shields that keep the spaceship from burning up on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. More information and pictures from the landing can be found here on NASA.gov.
Discovery spent two weeks in space, where the crew demonstrated new methods to inspect and repair the Shuttle in orbit. The crew also delivered supplies, outfitted and performed maintenance on the International Space Station. A number of these tasks were conducted during three spacewalks.
In an unprecedented event, spacewalkers were called upon to remove protruding gap fillers from the heat shield on Discovery's underbelly. In other spacewalk activities, astronauts installed an external platform onto the Station's Quest Airlock and replaced one of the orbital outpost's Control Moment Gyroscopes.
Inside the Station, the STS-114 crew conducted joint operations with the Expedition 11 crew. They unloaded fresh supplies from the Shuttle and the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Before Discovery undocked, the crews filled Raffeallo with unneeded items and returned to Shuttle payload bay.
The Discovery astronauts will now return home to be with their families but as MSNBC.com reports it is unclear what future missions will be. Future flights are on hold until NASA figures out why foam insulation fell once again from the fuel tank.
Shortly after Discovery lifted off July 26, a 1-pound chunk of foam insulation fell from the fuel tank - the very thing that doomed Columbia. The foam missed Discovery, but NASA grounded all shuttle flights until engineers fix the problem.
"We're going to try as hard as we can to get back in space this year," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said at a post-landing news conference. "But we're not going to go until we're ready to go."
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