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Shuttle Discovery Finishes Mission at Ellington


Twenty-seven year-old spacecraft retires with “flawless” landing


April 6, 2011





  © Houston Airport System
  Ellington Airport provides the perfect backdrop for astronauts returning home.
 
Ellington Airport once again provided the backdrop to an emotional homecoming for astronauts from NASA, as the 6 crew members from the Space Shuttle Discovery officially ended their thirteen-day mission.

The crew members enjoyed a heroes’ welcome on March 10, as hundreds of people gathered together inside NASA’s Hangar 276 to show their appreciation for the dedication and commitment shown by the five-man, one-woman crew.

“It was just a great flight,” said Commander Steve Lindsey. “We landed a vehicle that had absolutely nothing wrong with it. If you think about a vehicle that’s twenty-seven years-old, that a remarkable achievement.”

Ellington Airport routinely serves as the celebration locale for inbound NASA astronauts and their friends and family.

Typically on the day after landing, astronauts are flown to Houston where they’re given a chance to address members of the media and space enthusiasts on details surrounding the latest Space Shuttle mission.

These events at Ellington become more and more important and noteworthy as time goes by, since the Space Shuttle program is set to be retired after the completion of just two more flights.

Johnson Space Center Director Mike Coats was a crew member on Discovery’s first mission that launched on August 30, 1984, and he was on hand at Ellington Airport in March to welcome crew members home.

“I had the opportunity to meet a lot of the folks that build Discovery, Coats said. “It takes the work of thousands of people on a very dedicated team to make thirty-nine successful missions. It’s nice to go out on top and Discovery and this crew are going out on top.”

Since Coats boarded Discovery for that maiden voyage, the Space Shuttle has spent a total of exactly one year in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times and traveled more than 148 million miles. During that time, Discovery deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, returned the space program to flight after the Challenger and Columbia disasters and sent U.S. Senator John Glen back into space.

Over the next year, Discovery will be decommissioned in preparation for its final trip to a spot in the Smithsonian Institution. Meanwhile, Ellington Airport prepares for the likely arrival of two more NASA space crews. Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final flight is scheduled for April 19, while Space Shuttle Atlantis will launch in late June.
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