Wednesday, March 9, 2011
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- After 365 days in space – spread out over the last 27 years -- the space shuttle Discovery has returned from orbit for the last time.
It landed just before noon at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, carrying six crew members home from the International Space Station.
As the shuttle rolled to a stop, commander Steven Lindsey called out, "For the final time: wheels stop." He was the last member of the crew to climb out of the shuttle.
NASA estimates it will take several months of work before Discovery is ready to go on display at the Smithsonian. Crews will be removing the three main engines and draining all hazardous fuels.
There are still two shuttle flights left -- one each for Endeavour and Atlantis. NASA plans to move Endeavour out to the launch pad tomorrow for its April 19 liftoff. The mission will be commanded by the husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly.
Atlantis is slated to make its last trip at the end of June.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)