Page last updated at 02:04 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 03:04 UK

Nasa's Discovery returns to Earth

Advertisement

Discovery lands at the Kennedy Space Center

Nasa's space shuttle Discovery has landed after a 13-day mission to the International Space Station.

The shuttle touched down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, hours after its return was postponed because of concerns about poor weather conditions.

Discovery's seven crew members installed an extra pair of solar wings on the International Space Station.

The shuttle launched on 15 March, docking with the ISS to deliver the final set of solar arrays.

An astronaut who had been stationed on the ISS for four months, Sandra Magnus, returned to Earth on Discovery.

"The wheels have stopped," said Commander Lee Archambault when the craft finally came to a halt.

Mission Control in Houston, Texas, told him: "Welcome home Discovery after a great mission of powering the International Space Station."

Cdr Archambault said it was "good to be back home".

Meanwhile, a Russian space capsule with an American billionaire passenger on board has docked with the ISS.

The passenger, Charles Simonyi, is a software designer and is making his second trip as a space tourist.

He was accompanied by Russian and American astronauts.

Retirement

The shuttle undocked from the ISS on Wednesday after eight days there.

The crew spent five hours on Thursday inspecting the shuttle's outer surface using a laser and camera mounted on a 15m (50ft) boom connected to Discovery's robotic arm.

US space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 28 March 2009
The shuttle took new solar panels to the International Space Station

The images were then sent back to Mission Control as part of a routine procedure that ensures the integrity of the shuttle's heat-shield tiles.

The tiles are designed to dissipate heat as the orbiter returns to Earth through an increasingly thicker atmosphere.

Under the shuttle's left wing is a single tile that includes a "bump", which interrupts the normally smooth airflow around the tiles.

The disrupted airflow will increase the temperature of the tiles around it by a small amount and is part of a test of candidate tiles for future missions.

Current designs for those missions mean spacecraft will endure significantly more heat on re-entry than the space shuttles, which might be retired next year.

Nasa is preparing space shuttle Atlantis to be rolled out towards the launch pad on 31 March.

Atlantis is scheduled for a 12 May lift-off on a mission to service the Hubble Telescope. The mission has been delayed since October 2008.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Space tourist blasts off to ISS
26 Mar 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Discovery docks for power mission
18 Mar 09 |  Science & Environment
Nasa shuttle launched after delay
16 Mar 09 |  Science & Environment
Astronaut 'drops' space tool bag
19 Nov 08 |  Science & Environment

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific