Shuttle Lands, Safely Ending First Mission Since Columbia
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
and WARREN E. LEARY
Published: August 9, 2005
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Aug. 9 - The space shuttle Discovery glided back to Earth to a pre-dawn landing here in the Mojave desert today, nearly 14 days after its 5.8-million-mile journey began.
It was the first shuttle mission since the loss of the Columbia and its crew of seven astronauts in February 2003, which plunged the space agency into what Michael Griffin, NASA's administrator, has called the "depths of despair."
Discovery's mission, on paper, was straightforward: it involved resupplying the International Space Station and testing new technologies and techniques for detecting, measuring and repairing damage from launch debris.
But at the core, the mission of Discovery was to get the United States back in the business of launching humans into space.
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