March 9, 2011
Hertz Fellow Eric Boe piloted the space shuttle Discovery on it's final mission returning to Florida today. The STS-133 mission was Eric's second as pilot of the world's most flown spaceship. The Discovery will retire and may be placed in the Smithsonian Institution.
Eric's grandmother, Gladys Roscoe, 93, was keeping track of her grandson's mission. On his last mission, he called her from space. Sun Sentinel
NASA image caption: Flight Day 4, STS-133 pilot Eric Boe and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Expedition 26 flight engineer, work in the Columbus laboratory of the International Space Station while space shuttle Discovery remains docked with the station. For the complete story from NASA, visit the NASA website
NASA Celebrates Discovery Landing with Eye on Future Flights
Wed, 09 Mar 2011 12:31:39 PM PST
Reflection mixed with celebration today at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida after space shuttle Discovery completed the last of its 39 missions into orbit with a flawless return to Earth and landing at Kennedy. Before people could get too nostalgic, though, Space Shuttle Program officials quickly noted that the agency is working toward two more shuttle missions with Endeavour and Atlantis.
"Spaceflight doesn't come easy," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations. "We need to stay focused, keep our heads down and recognize that this is not easy.
Discovery worked so well during its final orbital journey that the six-astronaut crew was given two extra days in space to help the residents of the International Space Station with a host of duties. Gerstenmaier said the work was critical to set up the station and its crew for research.
Although Discovery will not go back into space, it will still offer scientific insight to future engineers, said Mike Moses, chairman of the Mission Management Team.
"The vehicle itself is a science platform," he said, adding that parts of Discovery will be pulled from the spacecraft and evaluated for wear.
The shuttle teams throughout NASA drew special praise for the longevity of the program and its successes, along with the workers' diligence.
"Discovery was in great shape and I view that as a testament to the team," Moses said. "It was really a triumph today for the entire Discovery team."
"We wanted to go out on a high note and Discovery's done that," said Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director. "We couldn't ask for more. It was virtually a perfect mission conducted by a perfect flight crew and a perfect ground crew. I couldn't be happier."