Discovery’s astronauts glided to a smooth landing at the Kennedy Space Center today to wrap up a nine-day, 3.6 million mile mission which marked the return of John Glenn to orbit and saw the crew members successfully conduct more than 80 scientific experiments.
Commander Curt Brown and Pilot Steve Lindsey set Discovery down on the 3-mile long landing strip at KSC at 11:04 a.m. Central time, following a flawless hour-long descent back from space. A missing drag chute compartment door, which popped off during liftoff on October 29, posed no problem for the astronauts and had no effect on the landing.
For Payload Specialist Glenn, the landing was a gentler return home than he experienced more than 36 years ago when he splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean in his Friendship 7 capsule after becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn experienced only about 3 g’s of gravitational force during today’s reentry, half of what he experienced during his Mercury capsule mission in 1962.
"One G and I feel fine,: Glenn exclaimed from the middeck following Discovery’s wheelstop on Runway 3-3 at the Kennedy Space Center. "The view is still tremendous, give yourselves a pat on the back," Glenn added, as he congratulated his crew mates on the completion of the 92nd flight in Shuttle
Brown, Lindsey, Glenn, Mission Specialists Steve Robinson, Scott Parazynski and Pedro Duque of the European Space Agency and Payload Specialist Chiaki Mukai of NASDA were scheduled to be reunited with their families later today following postflight medical exams and medical tests associated with some of the biomedical experiments performed during the mission.
The astronauts will spend the night near the Kennedy Space Center tonight before leaving Florida tomorrow morning for a heroes’ welcome back at Ellington Field in Houston Sunday.
Current plans call for the astronauts to leave the Cape Canaveral Air Station Skid Strip late Sunday morning for an arrival at Ellington around 2 p.m. Central time, where a crew return ceremony will mark their homecoming at Hangar 276, led by NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin, Johnson Space Center Director George W.S. Abbey, members of Congress and Houston Mayor Lee Brown. Both the crew departure in Florida and the crew return ceremony in Houston will be broadcast live on NASA Television.
Those interested in any updates to the crew return schedule should consult the NASA Code-A-Phone by calling 281-483-8600. The JSC newsroom will open at 8 a.m. Sunday to accommodate members of the news media planning to attend the Ellington ceremony. The newsroom can be reached by calling 281-483-5111. Reporters may set up equipment at Ellington starting at 8 a.m. Sunday but must have either affiliation or STS-95 mission credentials to cover the event.
A parade in downtown Houston is planned for the STS-95 astronauts on Wednesday, Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day, to honor the crew, the nation’s veterans and NASA.
NASA Television can be seen on GE-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 Mhz and audio of 6.8 Mhz.
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