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NASA Space Science

Shuttle Discovery Lands Safely 668

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the congratulations-to-all dept.
Tuxedo Jack writes "CNN and NASA report that the space shuttle Discovery has landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Concerns for its safe return were raised when spacewalks were necessary to repair the vehicle when external components were damaged; however, the shuttle landed safely with Commander Eileen Collins at the control yoke."
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Shuttle Discovery Lands Safely

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  • Welcome home (Score:3, Interesting)

    by timboc007 (664810) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:11AM (#13277670)
    Welcome home Discovery. Hmm... wonder if any of the crew are /.'ers?
    • Re:Welcome home (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Randseed (132501) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:23AM (#13277777)
      Hmm... wonder if any of the crew are /.'ers?

      Slashdot interview! (No, I'm serious. Good publicity for them among people who want to see the space program continue.)

  • by Sonicboom (141577) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:12AM (#13277672) Journal
    one small step for her - one giant step for womankind.

  • What was that? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fjornir (516960) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:12AM (#13277681)
    A quick question to any shuttle geeks who might be reading: I watched the landing and then found myself staring at an infrared shot of the aft end of Discovery on the ground. To the immediate left of the vertical stabilizer/rudder assembly there was a patch of air that kept lighting up and going dim, kind of like what you'd see if you light a bit of gas on fire. Any ideas what that might be? It didn't look rythmic enough to be a landing light or steady enough to be heat venting.

    Just curious...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thats good news but what about the future of the shuttles, given all the problems?
  • Good. (Score:2, Funny)

    by 42Penguins (861511)
    They finally decided to land after I woke up at both 4am Eastern yesterday and 5am today to watch it land, to no avail. I suppose they HAD to land sometime.
  • Tiles... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aztec1430 (242755) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:14AM (#13277698)
    It'll be interesting to see what damage has ocurred...

    If the damaged areas they noticed in orbit, are worse after re-entry...

    Cheers,
    Richard
    • Re:Tiles... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Deinhard (644412) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:18AM (#13277730)
      There was a lengthy discussion about that this morning. Every shuttle is damaged in one way or another but until this trip, when they scanned every inch of the orbiter, they couldn't tell if the damage came from launch, orbit or reentry.

      This new data will prove invaluable not only for the remaining shuttle flights, but also for the replacement vehicle.
  • Future missions... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theantipop (803016)
    I hope safe returns in the future aren't news but instead are commonplace. Hopefully NASA's shift in ideology regarding spacecraft design will usher in a new era in incident free missions.
  • by SpecialAgentXXX (623692) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:16AM (#13277716)
    I slept thought my 5 AM alarms and was going to be late for work, but the sonic booms woke me up. I wonder how many people forgot or did not know about the Space Shuttle landing. My family thought it was an earthquake.
  • Excellent work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ReformedExCon (897248) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:17AM (#13277724)
    But after having done this since 1961, you'd think that we'd be at a point where getting "those brave souls" back to Earth in one piece was mundane.

    Though it would be wonderful to have the space program re-examined and reformulated with realistic goals, unencumbered designs, and brave (not foolhardy) leadership, I doubt that we'll get anything more than another round of shuttle flights until the next one breaks up. Then we can expect more hand wringing, indecisiveness, and basically a whole lot more of nothing.

    Space is the biggest challenge Mankind will ever embark upon. It's sad to see that almost 45 years has passed and we're still crossing our fingers hoping that things go okay.
    • It was, before the previous mission !
    • by DragonHawk (21256) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:32AM (#13277861) Homepage Journal
      "But after having done this since 1961, you'd think that we'd be at a point where getting "those brave souls" back to Earth in one piece was mundane."

      While I agree with the rest of your comment, it's worth pointing out that 45 years is a drastically short period of time in human history. How long did we sail the seas before trans-oceanic travel stopped being experimental and perilous? We're so used to the incredibly fast pace of recent technological advancement that we forget that not everything comes quick. Expecting spaceflight to have become mundane in so short a time may not be reasonable.
    • Look at it this way - Columbus sailed to America in 1492. Where such trips routine by 1537? People still died on voyages, etc. And they didnt have to worry about bringing their own air supply! Give it a hundred years or so.
      • Look at it this way - Columbus sailed to America in 1492. Where such trips routine by 1537? People still died on voyages, etc. And they didnt have to worry about bringing their own air supply! Give it a hundred years or so.

        What are you, Vulcan??
  • Excellent job by the shuttle crew and everyone at NASA behind them on this successful and safe mission.

    One word sums it up: YeeHaw!!!

  • Almost Home (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Smallest (26153) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:18AM (#13277731)
    Now how do they get the shuttle back to FL so it can be launched again ?
    • Re:Almost Home (Score:2, Informative)

      by mbelly (827938)
      They piggyback it on a 747, the trip costs about $1 million. (Happened to visit Kennedy Space Center last week and they mentioned it on the tour.)
      • Re:Almost Home (Score:4, Informative)

        by pizen (178182) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:15AM (#13278234)
        Back when I lived in Texas I saw it when they made a stop on the way back to Florida. It's a really cool sight. Good article about it at space.com [space.com] . According to the article the largest part of the $1 million is the travel expenses of the KSC employees who have to fly to Edwards on short notice.
    • by chiph (523845)
      They UPS it overnight. ;-)

      Seriously, they use the 747 like nearly everyone else has said. They've been doing it since the days of the Enterprise (the first shuttle, which was never certified for flight because of the destructive vibration tests it went through).

      Chip H.
    • They launch it again, from california, with a sling-shot (the engineers have their own name for this device, I forget what it is though.) It gets up a few hundred thousand feet... then it glides across the country, purring like a gentle kitten the whole way through to florida.
    • Re:Almost Home (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rolan (20257) * on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:41AM (#13278519) Homepage Journal
      Now how do they get the shuttle back to FL so it can be launched again ?

      Atop [spacepix.net] a [nasa.gov] 747 [theaviationzone.com].
  • by GigsVT (208848) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:18AM (#13277736) Journal
    Eileen Collins

    It's important that we have female shuttle pilots.

    I mean, what if the core of the earth suddenly stopped spinning, and we needed to send a team down to jump start the core? If the core did that they could probably make a movie about the core doing that...

    They could call it "The middle of the planet"... or something.
  • I wonder what the cost of landing at Edwards vs. Kennedy is. Now that have to put it on top of a 747 and truck it back to Florida. That can't be cheap, and they're not exactly rolling in dough.

    Jerry
    http://www.cyvin.org/ [cyvin.org]
  • by kriegsman (55737) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:19AM (#13277746) Homepage
    [5:11am]
    MissionK0nTR07: wb
    MileHighEileen: ty

    -Mark
  • I hate to say this, but I'm glad this is over, and we can stop getting the minute-by-minute news reports of every damn thing the crew did.

    "This just in: Shuttle still in space. NASA still monitoring."

    "The inner airlock hatch will be shut now. Then, later, the outer hatch will open."

    "The shuttle just vented 11 mL of waste gas into space."

    "Commander Eileen just burped."

    Sheeesh.

    (Note well: I'm not slamming NASA, the space program, or our astronauts. (Not in this comment, anyway.) I'm slamming our culture o
  • Media frenzy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pmdata (861264) *
    Thankfully the media "Deathwatch" comes to an end. Ever get the feeling that they are hoping for disasters to happen? They are.
  • by jeblucas (560748) <jeblucas@gmaCOFFEEil.com minus caffeine> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:33AM (#13277873) Homepage Journal
    My wife and I were just getting the baby back to sleep when this loud BOOOOOM blew the curtains in a little. (Baby slept through it.) We just looked at each other and I went off to check the CalTech Earthquake advisory site for local quakes. My wife suggested the shuttle, but then pointed out it was to land in Florida. No quakes obviously, then I waited to hear sirens rushing to the site of a gas explosion. None of that either. Maybe one of the Perseids was a little bigger than normal--but there wasn't any light. I finally saw that Discovery landed safely at 5:12 PDT at Edwards AFB--about two hundred miles away. Pretty cool.
    • At least you you didn't call 911. My father works for a police in Fl. Every time teh shuttle lands in FL people run to the phones to call 911 and report gun shots.
    • by whyde (123448) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:13AM (#13278832)
      Living in Austin, TX, we once found out that a night landing would take the orbiter overhead, and saw the most amazing sci-fi movie special effect of its plasma trail, followed several minutes later by a faint double-boom.

      We went in to watch the landing, and the plasma trail was still boiling away overhead (faintly) when it touched down at the Cape just NINE MINUTES LATER.

      Then we realized just how blazing fast this thing drops in for a "landing", since it traveled 1000 miles in under 10 minutes, and made a perfect landing. Rocket scientists deserve their title.
  • . . . to Edwards' South, West, or North [google.com] gates will take

  • Never gets old (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rcmiv (68991) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:46AM (#13277953) Homepage
    I have watched so many of these landings, and it still amazes me. I remember watching the first launch in grade school, and the first landing.

    I was tuned into NASA to when Columbia launched and heard mission control talking about the foam impact on the lead wing. That whole mission I kept shaking my head at follow up reports that the damage was inconsequential. I got up just in time to watch Columbia break up that morning. It was a heart-rending thing to see happen live.

    This morning was fascinating. NASA coverage on the web just absolutely rocks. Even with the visual on the shuttle the whole way down, I still have a hard time conceptualizing that nature of that descent, from 17K mph 220 miles altitude to wheels stopped on the ground in a hour.

    Incredible. Flawless. Heroic.

    Great work NASA, JPL, Discovery crew! Welcome home. I hope you fly again, soon.

    -rcmiv
  • No big surprise (Score:3, Informative)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:59AM (#13278070) Journal
    Their survival rate has so far been 98%.
  • by CracktownHts (655507) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @12:48PM (#13279718)
    Collins would not have been at the yoke of the Discovery, as the Discovery is not equipped with a yoke, but rather a stick.

    Maybe a pilot can explain it better than I can, but the difference is somewhat like this: a yoke has two different types of motion: you can rotate it like a steering wheel, and you can push/pull it. A stick is like the video game joysticks we all know and love. The shuttle is flown with the latter when under human control (although it's still connected via a digital fly-by-wire system).

    If you look at pictures of the shuttle cockpit, you can clearly see a stick there. I suggest comparing the cockpit interiors of Boeing and Airbus (except the A300) commercial jets on airliners.net for an illustration of the differences.

  • From the great JSR monthly report.
    http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html [planet4589.org]

    Shuttle and Station
    -------------------

    The Shuttle has completed its return-to-flight mission, but continuing problems with debris marred the otherwise successful flight.

    Discovery was launched at 1439:00 UTC on Jul 26, reaching a 54 x 229 km orbit at 1447 UTC. The OMS-2 burn at 1517 UTC raised the perigee out of
    the atmosphere, with a 155 x 230 km orbit. NC-1 and NC-2 burns resulted in 226 x 285 km and 270 x 287 km orbits, as the Shuttle slowly matched
    altitude and speed with the Station in a 350 x 356 km x 51.6 deg orbit. Meanwhile, external tank ET-121 fell back into the Pacific with reentry
    at around 1550 UTC.

    Spectacular camera views from the External Tank showed minor tile damage during ascent, and the loss of a half-meter piece of foam from the ET at
    the time of SRB separation. Although the foam did not hit Discovery, the failure to stop large foam loss (a 15-cm piece was also lost from near
    the bipod ramp) will have to be investigated and fixed before Atlantis can fly the next mission.

    On Jul 19 the Station crew flew Soyuz TMA-6 from the Pirs docking port, undocking at 1038 UTC, and redocked with the Zarya docking port at 1108 UTC.

    On Jul 28 at 1118 UTC Discovery docked at the Space Station. Hatch opening was at 1250 UTC. The first spacewalk was carried out on Jul 30
    and saw tile repair tests in the payload bay, and installation of a mounting bracket for the ESP-2 stores platform on the Station's Quest module.

    The second spacewalk on Aug 1 saw replacement of the Station's CMG-1 gyro. The third spacewalk on Aug 3 saw installation of the ESP-2 platform,
    and the removal of two protruding pieces of tile gap-filler material from the Shuttle's heat shield.

    Discovery undocked from Station at 0724 UTC on Aug 6 and landed safely on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base at 1211 UTC on Aug 9.

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