Landing Coverage

    Welcome to the STS-120 Landing Blog

    STS-120 mission patch
    Relive the excitement as we welcomed space shuttle Discovery and the STS-120 astronauts back to Earth after a busy and successful mission. With the Harmony module delivered to the International Space Station and the P6 truss and solar arrays relocated and deployed, the crew ended the mission back where it started at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, landing at 1:01 p.m. EST on Nov. 7, 2007.

    Video highlights from the STS-120 landing are selected from televised coverage provided by NASA TV.
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    Note: All times are given in Eastern (EST) unless otherwise noted.

    This concludes our live landing coverage. Thanks for joining NASA's Landing Blog. For the latest updates on the conclusion of STS-120 and the preparations under way for STS-122's launch in December, visit the Space Shuttle Web site.

    2:30 p.m. - The astronauts will travel to the Crew Quarters aboard the Astrovan and crew transport vehicle after getting a chance to take a look at Discovery, the vehicle that carried them safely on their 15-day mission to the International Space Station.

    2:00 p.m. - Once Discovery is fully safed and ready to leave the runway, it will be towed to the nearby Orbiter Processing Facility later this afternoon, where processing will begin for its next mission, STS-124.

    It's a fact : Returning to the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida saves about five days of processing time for a space shuttle, making this the preferred landing site.

    1:55 p.m. - With the side hatch open, the astronauts are inside the crew transportation vehicle for a quick medical check before stepping out onto the runway to have a look at Discovery. After a walk around the orbiter, the astronauts will depart aboard the Astrovan for the 20-minute ride to the Crew Quarters.

    It's a fact: With mission STS-120, space shuttle Discovery completed its 34th mission since it first launched on Aug. 30, 1984. The vehicle has flown 23 missions to the International Space Station.

    1:18 p.m. - The astronauts have been given the go-ahead to get out of their orange launch-and-entry suits.

    1:16 p.m. - Inside Discovery, the astronauts are going through the standard checklist while, outside the orbiter, the landing convoy team continues work to "safe" the vehicle. It's been 15 minutes since landing.

    1:06 p.m. - "Hello there. It's nice to be back in Florida!" said Commander Pam Melroy as she and her crew begin their post-landing duties.

    1:04 p.m. - The vehicles in the landing convoy are rolling toward Discovery as it sits on the runway.

    1:01 p.m. - Discovery's landing gear is down and locked at 14 seconds to touchdown …main gear touchdown... nose gear touchdown! Discovery and crew are home after a triumphant mission to the International Space Station. The shuttle is rolling down the runway, reflecting the bright Florida sunshine… and Discovery's wheels have stopped. Welcome home!

    12:58 p.m. - The shuttle's signature twin sonic booms just echoed across the Kennedy Space Center, heralding Discovery's approach. Stand by for touchdown.

    12:53 p.m. - Eight minutes to touchdown. As the shuttle glides toward landing, it's approaching the "heading alignment circle" where Commander Pam Melroy will guide Discovery on a wide turn to align with the runway.

    12:46 p.m. - Fifteen minutes until touchdown.

    It's a fact: The twin sonic booms produced as the shuttle slices through the atmosphere are two distinct claps that occur a fraction of a second apart. The booms are caused when air in front of the nose and wings creates shock waves that spread away from the vehicle.

    12:41 p.m. - Twenty minutes until touchdown.

    It's a fact: On its descent, the shuttle starts maneuvers to put it on the landing path at about 45,000 feet.

    12:35 p.m. - The orbiter is rolling to the left in the first of several steep banking maneuvers. This series of rolls helps bleed off excess energy and slow the orbiter's speed. The atmospheric pressure is growing around Discovery and the orbiter's aerosurfaces are taking over control of the vehicle.

    12:30 p.m. - Discovery is beginning to encounter the effects of the atmosphere, a point called "entry interface." Now flying at about 16,000 miles per hour, the orbiter is angled upward with wings level. The shuttle is set to touch down in just over 30 minutes.

    It's a fact: The first shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility concluded mission STS-41B in 1984.

    12:20 a.m. - At the Shuttle Landing Facility, a long line of landing convoy vehicles is positioned at the runway. The convoy includes 20 to 30 specially designed vehicles or units that will "safe" the vehicle after touchdown, assist the crew and tow Discovery to the nearby processing facility.

    12:15 p.m. - Discovery's landing path today crosses diagonally over North America from northwest to southeast. Entering over the west coast of British Columbia north of Vancouver, the shuttle will fly over the states of Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia before crossing the northern border of Florida and heading toward the east coast on its final approach to Kennedy.

    It's a fact: About 30 minutes before touchdown, the shuttle begins entering the atmosphere at an altitude of around 400,000 feet.

    12:01 p.m. - With the burn complete, Discovery is headed for a landing in Florida at 1:01 p.m. Just one hour away from its homecoming, Discovery is returning to a nose-forward, wings-level position.

    Discovery is setting up to land from the southeast on Runway 33, making a right overhead turn as it approaches Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility.

    11:59 a.m. - The deorbit burn is under way! High above the southern Indian Ocean, the firing of Discovery's two orbital maneuvering system engines will last for about two minutes -- enough to slow the vehicle to start its descent through Earth's atmosphere. Each engine produces 6,000 pounds of thrust.

    11:49 a.m. - The crew has been given the "go" for the deorbit burn to begin at 11:59 a.m. This firing of the two orbital maneuvering system engines will slow Discovery enough to begin the shuttle's glide back to Earth.

    11:39 a.m. - The astronauts are maneuvering Discovery to the deorbit burn position, where the shuttle turns tail-first so the maneuvering system engines located on "pods" at the rear of the shuttle can fire in the direction that Discovery is traveling, acting as a braking system. The team continues to monitor the weather before giving a "go" for the burn.

    It's a fact: A returning shuttle's glide from space begins on the opposite side of the planet with the deorbit burn that will bring it back to Earth, executed about one hour before landing.

    11:15 a.m. - As the team continues to monitor weather conditions, the deorbit burn for the first landing opportunity would come in 45 minutes.

    11:00 a.m. - Good morning. Landing preparations aboard space shuttle Discovery got under way this morning at about 8 a.m., and the crew closed Discovery's 60-foot payload bay doors at about 9:15 a.m. Since then, crew members have transitioned the onboard computers to the software package used for landing, and climbed into their orange launch-and-entry suits. During this time, the astronauts also begin to drink large quantities of fluid to help their bodies readjust to Earth's gravity after landing.

    Weather at the prime landing site, the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy, looks favorable for the first landing opportunity that will come at 1:01 p.m. Deorbit burn is set for 11:59 a.m. Keeping an eye on weather today from the Shuttle Training Aircraft is astronaut Steven Lindsey, flying the landing area to monitor conditions. While weather is not expected to be an issue for the first landing opportunity, the team will continue to monitor some clouds that should pass by the landing facility by touchdown time.

    As Discovery's astronauts successfully wrap up mission STS-120, they leave behind on the International Space Station astronaut Dan Tani, who joined the Expedition 16 crew after changing places with Clay Anderson. Anderson is returning to Earth aboard Discovery after five months on the station. He launched with the STS-117 crew on space shuttle Atlantis in June.

    The "go or no-go" call for the deorbit burn on orbit 238 is expected at about 11:41 a.m, so stay right here with NASA's Landing Blog for the latest.

    Live Coverage Team
    Blog Updates: Cheryl Mansfield
    Site Updates: Steve Siceloff
    Video Uploads/Captions: Anna Heiney
    Quality Control: Corey Schubert
    Photo Gallery: Elaine Marconi
    Video Production: Maureen Mulholland
    Video Capture/Editing: Chris Chamberland,
    Michael Chambers and Gianni Woods