Shuttle lands in California, ending 14-day mission

Shuttle lands in California, ending 14-day mission

The space shuttle Discovery touched down safely on a landing strip in California's Mojave Desert on Friday at the end of a 14-day resupply mission to the International Space Station, Reuters reported.

NASA diverted the spaceship to Edwards Air Force Base after waiting in vain for two days for rain and clouds to clear over the shuttle's home base in Florida.

The shuttle landed at 8:53 p.m. EDT on Friday (0053 GMT on Saturday).

"Welcome home Discovery, congratulations on an extremely successful mission," astronaut Eric Boe radioed to the crew as Discovery came to a stop.

Flight directors had tried on Thursday and Friday to bring Discovery back to Florida.

But rain and thunderstorms near Florida's Kennedy Space Center stymied NASA's original landing plans, prompting flight directors to switch to the backup site on the other side of the country, where skies were clear.

After 219 orbits around Earth, Discovery plunged back through the atmosphere, soaring northeast over the Pacific Ocean toward Southern California.

Appearing initially over the northeastern horizon as a white speck glinting in the fading sunlight, Discovery descended quickly to the base's main landing strip, touching down with a puff of smoke as the rear wheels made contact with the runway at a speed of 250 miles per hour (402 kph).

Double sonic booms earlier thundered through the sky as the shuttle dipped below the speed of sound for the first time since blasting off on Aug. 28 one minute before midnight from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on NASA's 128th space shuttle mission.

Commander Rick Sturckow circled Discovery down over the California desert, burning off speed before nose-diving the 100-tonne ship to the concrete landing strip to complete a 5.7-million mile (9.1-million km) journey.

Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford, flight engineer Jose Hernandez, spacewalkers Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang, and astronaut Pat Forrester flew back to Earth with a new crewmember, returning space station flight engineer Tim Kopra, who had been in orbit at the station for two months.

Kopra's replacement, Nicole Stott, will remain on the space station until NASA returns to the outpost in November.

She was the last station crewmember to catch a ride to the outpost on the shuttle and will be the last NASA astronaut to fly home on one as well.

NASA is turning over crew transport to the station to Russia, at a cost of about $50 million per seat, as it begins phasing out the shuttle. The space agency is also considering hiring U.S. commercial firms to ferry its astronauts.

During its latest mission, Discovery carried more than 7.5 tonnes of food, laboratory equipment, science experiments, spare parts, a new treadmill and crew quarters for the space station.

The space outpost is a $100 billion project involving 16 nations, which is nearing completion after more than a decade of construction.

Olivas, Fuglesang -- a Swedish astronaut with the European Space Agency -- and Stott made three spacewalks to replace a refrigerator-sized tank of ammonia coolant and prepare the station for its final connecting hub.

NASA has six flights remaining to finish outfitting the station. It then plans to retire the shuttles and move on with development of a capsule and rocket that could ferry crews to the moon.

Those plans may change as President Barack Obama considers the results of a study that has determined NASA's lunar ambitions exceed its budget by about $3 billion a year.

Iran’s NICICO enhances its sales value
Iran’s NICICO enhances its sales value
Iran’s CBI announces volume of funds allocated for imports of essential products
Iran’s CBI announces volume of funds allocated for imports of essential products
Volume of loans attracted for purchase of agricultural machinery in Iran revealed
Volume of loans attracted for purchase of agricultural machinery in Iran revealed
Loading Bars
Latest
Ethnic Russian soldier dies in battle to liberate Azerbaijani lands from Armenian occupation
Commanders of Armenian armed forces hold meetings at kindergarden (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani army destroying Armenian armed forces on ground and in air - Anar Eyvazov
Azerbaijani army neutralizes high-ranking Armenian soldier
Armenian armed forces forced to retreat, suffering losses (VIDEO)
Footage from Azerbaijani Jabrayil and Zangilan regions liberated from occupation unveiled (VIDEO)
Armenian terrorist killed in Nagorno-Karabakh
Iran’s NICICO enhances its sales value
Weapon emplacements of Armenian Armed Forces destroyed, says Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan (VIDEO)
Tesla recalls 48,442 vehicles in China
Azerbaijani NGOs apply to relevant int'l structures regarding Armenia's involvement of children in military operations
Islamabad condemns killing of Azerbaijani civilians by Armenian Armed Forces (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Armenia admits loss of 11 more servicemen
Israeli cabinet approves Bahrain normalization accord
Iran boosts pickup manufacturing
Azerbaijan confirms 228 more COVID-19 recoveries
Liberation of Azerbaijani lands from occupation - gratifying – Iranian General
Canadian Azerbaijanis protest against Armenian attacks on Ganja (PHOTOS)
US too knows Armenia is terrorist state, MP
Military uniform price in Armenia increase
Russia’s coronavirus case tally exceeds 1.5 mln
Azerbaijani army destroying military equipment, in background of which Pashinyan took selfie (PHOTO)
554 streets disinfected in Baku (PHOTOS)
Footage about Armenia's missile attack on Ganja prepared (VIDEO)
Funeral service for 13-year-old Arthur, who died due to Armenian terror, being held in church in Ganja (PHOTOS)
Iran assigns lands to develop Pardis Technology Park
Will Iran export water?
Iran to increase in detergents and sanitizers price
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for October 25
US Azerbaijanis hold protest in San Francisco against Armenian terror (PHOTOS)
Azerbaijani army heroically fighting for liberation of native lands from Armenian occupation (VIDEO)
Names of foreign mercenaries fighting in Karabakh within Armenian army revealed
Armenia must be held accountable for using children in battles, Azerbaijani expert
Azerbaijan announces recent statistics on COVID-19 cases across country
Armenian doctor who issued fake COVID-19 certificates to evade conscription arrested
Iran’s CBI announces volume of funds allocated for imports of essential products
Assistant to Azerbaijani president gives interview to leading Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram
Footage from Azerbaijani Gubadli region liberated from occupation unveiled (VIDEO)
Armenian military attacks against Azerbaijan along bordering regions - acts of aggression as enshrined in UN Charter, says Azerbaijani top official
Armenian Armed Forces shelling Azerbaijani Aghdam, Tartar and Agjabedi regions - MoD
Azerbaijani president's aide comments on French delegation's visit to Armenia
Volume of loans attracted for purchase of agricultural machinery in Iran revealed
Azerbaijan Army uses precision weapons against Armenian Armed Forces (VIDEO)
Iranian gov't to impose strict limitations to fight COVID-19
Production of home appliances in Iran increases
Export of agricultural products from Iran's Kurdistan region increases
Georgia reports 1 928 new coronavirus cases, 604 recoveries
President Ilham Aliyev gave interview to US Fox News TV channel (PHOTO)
Iran strongly condemns disrespect for Prophet of Islam in France
Iran unveils amount of loans issued to services sector
Bahar Azadi gold coin price falling in Iran
Statement made following investigation of Armenia's shelling of civilians in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan close to military victory in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - Russian analyst
Armenia's hopes that Russia to help it fight against Azerbaijan doomed to fail - expert
New refrigeration unit commissioned in Georgia
U.S. Vice President Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19
Azerbaijan forces Armenian troops to retreat in Gubadli direction - MoD
Significant amount of Armenian Armed Forces’ manpower, equipment destroyed - MoD
Azerbaijani troops advance new positions in Khojavend, Gubadli, Lachin directions of front
Over 150 new COVID-19 cases reported in Kazakhstan
Volume of loans issued to trade sector in Iran disclosed
WHO reports record increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases of over 465,000 in 24 hours
Samsung chief Lee dies
5.4-magnitude quake hits 74 km off Kawalu, Indonesia
Turkey reports 2,091 COVID-19 patients
Yemen's Houthis targeted two airports and a base in Saudi Arabia
Brazil reports another 432 COVID-19 deaths
Moscow's death toll from confirmed COVID-19 cases rises by 68
Afghan forces kill senior al Qaeda leader al-Masri who was on FBI most wanted list
UK records another 23,012 coronavirus cases with 174 deaths
Helpless on battlefield Armenia spreads false, provocative information - Azerbaijani MoD
Hikmet Hajiyev: Using children under 15 as soldiers is a war crime
8 killed, 4 injured in road accident in Pakistan's Punjab province
Necessary conditions will be created to extradite Armenian prisoners of war and civilians to third countries - MoD
Armenian army's combat equipment destroyed (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry calls on civilians in occupied territories to stay away from military facilities
Ministry of Defense: Armenian Armed Forces resort to provocations to prevent operations of Azerbaijani army
Iran declares amount of loans issued to housing & construction sector
Armenia continues to use underage children in military hostilities (VIDEO)
Photo of another missile launched by Armenia against Azerbaijan unveiled (PHOTO)
President Ilham Aliyev on political objectives of Armenian military attack on Azerbaijan
In center of Baku, there is Armenian church, but mosques on occupied territories were destroyed - President Aliyev
With Georgia our relations are excellent, says Azerbaijani president
Armenian government should not try to frighten its population with Turkey - President Aliyev
And after war with Armenia stops, political settlement enforced, role of Turkey will be very important, very positive - President Aliyev
Wounds of war must be healed by political wisdom, by political will - President Aliyev
Armenian government should understand that they are not now in position to dictate - President Aliyev
Best way for future of Karabakh - to live in peace in harmony, try to become good neighbors again, says President Aliyev
Unlike Armenia, from Russia we buy weapons, we pay for them, says Azerbaijani president
Turkey is not involved in the conflict at all - Azerbaijani president
If Armenia didn’t violate ceasefire today clashes would have stopped - President Aliyev
We cleaned completely the Azerbaijani-Iranian border from Armenian occupants, and there will be no more inconvenience for our brothers across river of Araz in Iran - President Aliyev
If Armenia do not stop, we will go until end to liberate all occupied territories - Azerbaijani president
Azerbaijan became already regional hub for not only for energy, but also for transportation - President Aliyev
Armenia - occupier, obliged to liberate territories of Azerbaijan - Lebanese political scientist
Loans of dead servicemen and persons affected by hostilities to be repaid in Azerbaijan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Azerbaijan begins to return its lands
Azerbaijani army liberates occupied lands with great inspiration (VIDEO)
Religious confessions of Azerbaijan demonstrate solidarity in fight against Armenian terror (VIDEO)
65 Azerbaijani civilians, including women, children, killed since beginning of Armenian provocation - Prosecutor General's Office
All news