Discovery arrives home safely

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle orbiter Discovery has ended the superb STS-116 mission by touching down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery travelled 5,330,000 miles on the 13 day flight to the International Space Station (ISS), which achieved all of its mission goals.

**Over 2300mb of STS-116 onwards related presentions and mission documentation available on L2 **

**LIVE news updates on Discovery STS-116 – FOR EACH FLIGHT DAY** – 100s of live updates each flight day, including images and videos, all interactive.

Over 900 mb of specially recorded super hi res landing video on L2 now.

As expected, NASA made a last minute decision on the landing site for Discovery, as changing weather situations saw the first opportunity to land at KSC cancelled.

As Discovery was prepared to land at Edwards Air Force Base, winds – which were a concern earlier in the day – started to rise to the point the Californian strip was no go.

Ironically, KSC started to improve, eventually leading to the decision to give Discovery the go for the deorbit burn and head to KSC after all. The concerns about landing at White Sands were already a distant memory, as the orbiter enjoyed a smooth ride back to the Cape.

With only one issue reported on the way back home – ‘Actuator Command for Speedbrake shows off scale Low’ – Discovery gracefully landed on runway 15 at KSC.

**Ride home through the fire and plasma of re-entry with Atlantis – Stunning 2hr, 355mb video – from deorbit burn to post landing**

The mission has been a roaring success, with all of the mission objectives – assembly, maintenance, and resupply – achieved.

According to the latest On Orbit status report, the mission objectives that have been completed were listed as follows:

‘Replacing one ISS crewmember, delivering a total mass of ~9200 lbs/4170 kg (4407 lbs/2000 kg external components, including the 4109 lbs/1834 kg P5 spacer), 4435 lbs/2012 kg internal dry cargo, ~236 lbs/106L water, ~69 lbs/31.3 kg oxygen for the A/L HPTs (high-pressure tanks) plus more O2 for EVA prebreathing, 49 lbs/22.2 kg nitrogen for the A/L HPTs plus some for cabin repressurization, and 20 days of food (three persons).

‘Mass returning on STS-116: 4575 lbs/2075 kg dry cargo (1210 lbs/549 kg in Middeck, 3365 lbs/1526 kg in Spacehab). Four spacewalks were performed safely and successfully, and transition to permanent power & thermal systems was completed, with 17,900 ground commands uplinked.

‘Footnote of interest: Part of the return cargo on STS-116/Discovery is Suni Williams’ long, flowing hair. She parted with it and donated it to Locks of Love, a Florida-based organization that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer.’

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