Space shuttle Discovery lands safely

The space shuttle Discovery returned to Kennedy Space Center on Saturday after a 12-day mission.
The space shuttle Discovery landed safely at Kennedy Space Center on Saturday after a mission to the International Space Station.

Earlier Saturday, NASA had scrubbed a planned 1:38 p.m. landing, citing high winds. Discovery, with its seven-member crew, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, last Sunday, to continue work on expanding the International Space Station. The 12-day mission also dropped off astronaut Koichi Wakata at the station. He will replace NASA’s Sandy Magnus, and will be the first Japanese astronaut to stay at the station for an extended time. On Thursday, a pair of astronauts from Discovery safely completed a six-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station, installing a set of solar panels that will help the station handle twice as many crew members. Astronauts Richard Arnold and Steve Swanson bolted solar arrays into place as the last piece of the station’s expanded power system. It’s part of an expansion that will allow the size of the station’s crew to be doubled from three to six.

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“We’re very proud of their work,” said NASA spacewalk director Glenda Laws-Brown. “They were very efficient. I’ve watched several of these and this was a joy to watch.” The walk, which NASA timed at 6 hours and 7 minutes, was completed at 7:23 p.m. ET. It was Swanson’s third spacewalk and Arnold’s first, and the 121st spacewalk done in support of assembling the space station. Lead space station flight director Kwatsi Alibaruho said the walk, and operation of robotic arms by astronauts John Phillips and Wakata, were “executed flawlessly.” The crew also worked Thursday to make sure members of the space station stay physically fit — repairing a treadmill and exercise bicycle that had broken down, Alibaruho said.