UPDATE 2: Discovery Touchdown in HD
UPDATE 1: HD video of shuttle Discovery landing is now available at NASA TV YouTube Channel.
Today at 19:13:17 UT, the Space Shuttle Discovery landed on Runway 15 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral in Florida, ending a 13-day mission to the ISS.
The STS-119 flight delivered the space station’s fourth and final set of solar array wings, completing the station’s truss. The additional electricity provided by the arrays will fully power science experiments, help support station operations and extend the station’s crew to six astronauts.
During the mission, which lasted 12 days 19 hours 29 minutes and 33 seconds, the crew traveled 8.5 million kilometres (5.3 million miles). STS-119 was the 125th space shuttle flight, the 28th flight to the station, the 36th flight for Discovery and the first flight in 2009. Despite a few minor glitches and one relatively large one (mission specialist Joseph Acaba accidentally inserted a pin upside down jamming the deployment of an equipment storage platform outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory), the mission is viewed as a big success by bringing the station to full power. Eight flights to station remain before the shuttles retire in 2010.
With Discovery and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the launch of STS-125, targeted for May 12. Atlantis’ mission will return the space shuttle to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope for one last visit before the shuttle fleet retires in 2010. Over 11 days and five spacewalks, Atlantis’ crew will upgrade the telescope, preparing it for at least another five years of research.