URGENT Shuttle Discovery Returns Home
Undated (AP) _ ″Welcome back, congratulations on a super mission. The world is looking forward to reaping the benefits of your good work over the next 15 years,″ said Mission Control’s Steve Oswald.
″We sure enjoyed it also; it was great fun,″ said Commander Loren J. Shriver.
Left in space by the five Discovery astronauts was the Hubble Space Telescope, a $1.5 billion marvel that, when it begins operating properly, will look for evidence of the birth of the universe and for planets orbiting a sun much like ours.
Mission Control delayed its permission for Discovery to leave orbit until almost the last minute, after watching a night of shifting winds. Discovery was directed to a concrete runway, instead of the planned hard-packed desert strip, because wind conditions were better there.
Shriver and pilot Charles Bolden took over the controls from the shuttle’s computers the last few minutes. Also in the crew were mission specialists Steven Hawley,eered as the shuttle touched down. There were a few scattered clouds.
The shuttle had circled Earth 75 times since its launch Tuesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, traveling more than 2,068,213 miles.
Shriver fired Discovery’s two th new carbon brakes. NASA would have preferred to land Discovery on the longer desert runway because it would have provided more margin for a slow rolling stop that would not tax the brakes.
The carbon brakes can withstand longer stopping distance antennas locked into unusable positions.
However, engineers guiding the telescope’s checkout managed overnight to transmit recorded data about the antenna problems over a secondary, low-gain antenna. They expect to get clues to fixing the problem.
The telescope is an apparatus of almost limitless vision that is expected to provide astronomical data for 15 years, revealing celestial secrets dating back to the time the universe was created.
The 12 1/2 -ton telescope, with the smoothest mirrorectronics. It took more than a day to restore them.