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Shuttle lands safely

By David Reed, UT EditorEdwards Air Force Base, California-The space shuttle Discovery landed safely at 8:12am EST, Tuesday 9 Aug at this US Air Force base in California, after two weeks in orbit, part of which was spent repairing damage caused when foam pieces fell from the craft’s fuel tank during lift-off.”It’s good to be us today,” said Bill Parsons, NASA space shuttle program manager, in a statement to a press conference held at Kennedy Space Center, Houston, Texas.NASA administrator Mike Griffin was quick to compliment Commander Eileen Collins and her crew. “I’m thinking about resigning my position in favour of Eileen Collins,” he joked. “I think the crew performed fantastically well.” The administrator went on to extend his congratulations to the International Space Station and space shuttle teams that worked on the mission.The Discovery crew demonstrated new methods to inspect and repair the Shuttle in orbit and also delivered supplies, outfitted and performed maintenance on the International Space Station. A number of these tasks were conducted during three spacewalks, the NASA statment said. In an unprecedented event, said NASA, spacewalkers were called upon to remove protruding gap fillers from the heat shield on Discovery’s underbelly. In other spacewalks, astronauts installed an external platform onto the International Space Station’s Quest Airlock and replaced one of its control moment gyroscopes which stabilise the platform. Inside the International Space Station, the shuttle crew conducted joint operations with the Expedition 11 crew. They unloaded fresh supplies from the shuttle and the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module. Before Discovery undocked, the crews filled Raffaello with unneeded items and returned to the shuttle’s payload bay.NASA has already announced that there will be no further shuttle flights until the foam separation problem is resolved.”

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