Monday, September 21, 2009
Heavy gray clouds and anxious technicians greeted the space shuttle Discovery today as she arrived at America's Spaceport following a 2500 mile journey riding piggyback a top a NASA Boeing 747 jet.
The massive wheels of the 747-200 aircraft slammed the concrete of runway 33 at the shuttle landing facility here at the Kennedy Space Center at 12:06 pm EDT.
Inside the orbiter, is a space module which spent one week docked to the international space station, and is crammed with a multitude of trash, completed experiments and used parts. Discovery herself spent 10 days docked with station on a resupply flight.
Ten days ago, Discovery fired her breaking engines and left earth orbit aimed for a landing at Edwards, AFB in southern California due to inclement weather at Kennedy. Following one week of preparations which saw the orbiter raised and mounted a top the 747 jet on Friday, the pair departed the California desert at daybreak on Sunday.
Dodging thunderstorms, the Aeronautical Duo flew from the Florida panhandle and southeast toward central Florida. The mighty Boeing 747 banked from southwest of Orlando and headed due east toward the southern section of Cape Canaveral.
At 12:30 pm, Discovery was then towed to the nearby mate-demate device which allows technicians to safely remove the orbiter from the back of the 747 using a massive crane. Later today, Discovery will then be towed to the orbiter processing facility to continue the deserving work which was started out at Edwards in support of her next flight.
Discovery's next spaceflight is currently targeted for March 2010, on a resupply mission to the space station.