NASA's shuttle Discovery landed safely Tuesday morning after poor weather had thwarted two initial landing opportunities Monday. The orbiter touched down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:08 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, ending its 15-day mission to the International Space Station.
The shuttle and its seven-member crew brought to the station additional science racks, new sleeping quarters and a freezer for storing biological samples. In three spacewalks, the astronauts also replaced a spent ammonia tank that supplies the station's cooling system.
With the completion of the mission, officially designated STS-131, each of the three space shuttles has just one remaining launch before the program is shut down. The final launch of the space shuttle, currently scheduled for September, is another trip to the International Space Station for Discovery.
Discovery's crew for STS-131 comprised commander Alan Poindexter, pilot Jim Dutton, and mission specialists Rick Mastracchio, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Clay Anderson, all of NASA, and mission specialist Naoko Yamazaki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls