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Discovery Returns To Earth After "Excellent" Mission

Smoke rises from the tires as the US Space Shuttle Discovery touches down at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida 22 August 2001. Discovery returned to Earth after a successful 12-day mission during which astronauts set a series of scientific experiments in motion and escorted a fresh crew to the International Space Station. AFP Photo by Tony Ranze
by Pascal Barollier
Washington (AFP) Aug 22, 2001
The US space shuttle Discovery returned to Earth Wednesday after a perfectly choreographed 12-day mission during which astronauts set a series of scientific experiments in motion and escorted a fresh crew to the International Space Station.

Discovery touched down at 2:23 pm local time (1823 GMT) at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The landing had been postponed from 12:46 pm (1646 GMT) due to bad weather near Cape Canaveral.

Launched August 10 -- a day later than expected, again due to weather -- Discovery completed the rest of its mission punctually.

"It was an excellent mission. We didn't have any significant problem or trouble," Kennedy Space Center spokesman Bruce Buckingham said Wednesday.

"We got a little bit behind at one point in some of our transfer of equipments to the space station but we were able to make up for the time and proceed on schedule. The major mission milestones were met," Buckingham told AFP.

Commanded by US astronaut Scott Horowitz, assisted by co-pilot Rick Sturckow and mission specialists Patrick Forrester and Daniel Barry, Discovery also escorted back to Earth members of the "Expedition Two" ISS crew, who spent almost five and a half months in space.

Russian Commander Yury Usachev and US astronauts Susan Helms and James Voss were to be reunited with their families, then undergo a program of several weeks to get used to gravity, restore muscle capacity and boost immune systems weakened by the prolonged stay in space.

Discovery is also bringing back to Earth the Italian-built supply module Leonardo, which took three tonnes of equipment to the space station and ferried back two tonnes -- mostly personal effects and trash.

Meanwhile, the relief crew Discovery left at the station was getting ready for the arrival of the Russian supply ship Progress M-45, expected Thursday.

Progress is due to arrive at the ISS with some 2.5 tonnes of fuel, oxygen, food and clothes for Expedition Three members -- US commander Frank Culbertson, co-pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin, both of Russia.

Expedition Three will then begin some 40 scientific experiments and continue routine maintenance of the station, which should keep them busy through early December, when a new crew is due to arrive at the station.

During their four months in space Expedition Three will conduct an experiment growing ovarian cancer cells in weightlessness. Other experiments are devoted to the study of the effect of space flight on muscle density, kidney function, bone density, and heart and lung activity.

All rights reserved. 2000 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Discovery Undocks From Station
 Washington (AFP) Aug 20, 2001
The US space shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station Monday after an eight-day visit, gearing up to ferry back to Earth the three members of the station's second crew.

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