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Space Shuttle Discovery Returns Home After Final Mission

space shuttle discovery return

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Discovery and its six-astronaut crew ended a 13-day journey of more than five million miles and concluded the spacecraft's illustrious 27-year career with an 11:57 a.m. EST landing Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

STS-133 was the last mission for the longest-serving veteran of NASA's space shuttle fleet. Since 1984, Discovery flew 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.

"Discovery is an amazing spacecraft and she has served her country well," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The success of this mission and those that came before it is a testament to the diligence and determination of everyone who has worked on Discovery and the Space Shuttle Program, over these many years. As we celebrate the many accomplishments of this magnificent ship, we look forward to an exciting new era of human spaceflight that lies ahead."

Steve Lindsey commanded the flight and was joined by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. Discovery delivered the Pressurized Multipurpose Module, or PMM, which was converted from the Multipurpose Logistics Module, Leonardo. The PMM can host experiments in fluid physics, materials science, biology, biotechnology and other areas.

STS-133 also brought critical spare components and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 to the International Space Station. Robonaut 2, or R2, became the first human-like robot in space and a permanent resident of the station. The mission's two spacewalks assisted in outfitting the truss of the station and completed a variety of other tasks designed to upgrade station systems.

A welcome ceremony for the astronauts will be held Thursday, March 10, in Houston. The public is invited to attend the 4 p.m. CST event at Ellington Field's NASA Hangar 276. Gates to Ellington Field will open at 3:30 p.m.

Published March 9, 2011

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