The Final Journey Home

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 4:05pm

Space Shuttle Discovery touches down after final mission to orbit.

Space Shuttle Discovery touched down at Kennedy Space Center just before noon Wednesday, a perfect landing to wrap up a historic career in space.

Discovery has now flown nearly 150 million miles, spending a total of 365 days in orbit.

Discovery first flew into space in 1984 and over the next 27 years would log many historic milestones.

It is the shuttle that first carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit, the shuttle that last rendezvoused with the Mir Space Station and helped build the new International Space Station.

Discovery was the shuttle chosen to return NASA to space after the Challenger disaster and the Columbia accident.

Commander Steve Lindsey says the shuttle came back in flawless condition.

"Because of this Kennedy Space Center Work force here that takes care of this vehicle it came back as perfect on it's final flight as it did on it's first flight," he said after landing.

For Lindsey and the crew that put it into space and helped maintain the orbiter the final flight represents a difficult time.

The future of the space program is still uncertain.

"As the minutes pass I'm getting sadder and sadder about this being the last flight,"
Lindsey said.

Discovery's next trip after a decommissioning process is expected to be to Washington D.C., where it will become part of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum collection.

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