Marine Col. Frederick W. Sturckow, commander of the Discovery shuttle, radioed as they landed on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base at 8:53 p.m E.D.T.
The shuttle was set to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida but bad weather that promised to continue on Saturday, stopped them from doing so.
The Discovery crew plus Army Col. Timothy L. Kopra plans to fly back to Houston tomorrow.
Kopra, who stayed at the International Space Station for two months, traveled back to Earth on this his back in a recumbent seat to ease his return to gravity.
“This experience has completely exceeded anything that I thought it would be like, just the sights, the sounds, the experiences with a great crew,” said Colonel Kopra last week. “The main thing …I’m looking forward to is seeing my family again, my wife and two kids. And maybe have a sip of a beer.”
Ahhh, nothing like a sip of beer can cure homesickness. 😉
Japan’s H-2B rocket blasted off to space Thursday from launch pad 2 at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 1:01:46 p.m. EDT.
The rocket is carrying HTV cargo craft, an unmanned space station cargo, that contains around 7,400 pounds of equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. The cargo craft was released into its planned preliminary orbit 15 minutes after liftoff.
“The launch was beautiful,” Stephen Clark, a U.S. journalist representing Spaceflight Now, said in an instant message from Tanegashima. “The boosters lit with the typical orange glow and away she went. The rocket went into a thick cloud layer around 25 seconds after liftoff, but the rumble shook us for a couple minutes more.”
The craft will not be docking to the station on its own like previous supply ships like Russian Progress supply ships of the European Space Agency’s automated transfer vehicle, or ATV. Instead, the HTV will autonomously maneuver to a position at the capture point, around 29 feet from the laboratory complex. Station flight engineer Nicole Stott will then use the lab’s robot arm to lock onto a grapple fixture.
The HTV will however, do a full week of orbital tests and checkouts first before it will approach the space station on its 8th day into orbit.
The astronauts and cosmonauts have already said their goodbyes in preparation for their return trip to Earth. They closed the hatches between the International Space Station and the shuttle at 11:41 pm EDT Monday.
The astronauts aboard Discovery are taking home with them a portable cargo module and 5,000 pounds of items not needed at the ISS. As reported earlier, astronaut Tim Kopra will also be coming with them while a Discovery crew will take his place at the space station.
They are scheduled to undock from the station at 3:26 pm Tuesday and expected to land in Florida on Thursday.