August 24, 2005 The final frontier: amazing pictures from
space shuttle Discovery mission by Gulliver
It was one of the most dramatic space sagas in modern times.
Space shuttle Discovery returned safely to earth in
California, completing Nasa's first shuttle mission since
the Columbia disaster in which seven astronauts perished.
A global television audience followed every word and manouevre
of the crew during their spectacular 14-day mission which
included a stay at the International Space Station.
Amazing images of space walks, shuttle repairs and docking
with the space station were beamed back to earth throughout.
Discovery made a night landing at 5.11 am PT on August 9 at
Nasa's secondary site at Edwards Air Force Base north of Los
The landing was due to take place at Kennedy Space Station
in Florida, but that was switched to the base in the Mojave
Desert in California because of bad weather.
America's most successful woman astronaut Commander Eileen
Collins said that she and her crew were "glad to be back."
The ill-fated Columbia space shuttle broke apart during re-entry
in February 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board.
The disaster was blamed on a piece of insulating foam that
broke off the fuel tank during launch and punched a hole in
the shuttle's wing.
When Discovery took off on July 26 foam insulation also fell
off its tank. Nasa was forced to ground the rest of the fleet
until the problem is solved.
As the crew went through their paces, including spectacular
space walks and repairs to the shuttle, Commander Collins
admitted the doomed Discovery astronauts were always on their
Collins made history when she became the first woman to command
a space shuttle mission in 1999. A Star Trek from her childhood,
she used to come straight home from school and watch the TV
series whenever she could.