Discovery and Crew Return to Earth

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 20 (UPI) — Space shuttle Discovery touched down safely and on schedule Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center, ending its 15-day mission to the International Space Station.

The shuttle landed about 9:08 a.m. EDT traveling at slightly more than 200 mph after flying southeastward over a large portion of the United States, crossing over or near Vancouver, Canada, before overflying Helena, Mont., Casper, Wyo., Tulsa, Okla., Montgomery, Ala., and Gainesville, Fla., en route to Cape Canaveral.

Monday’s landing attempts in Florida were foiled by unacceptable cloudiness over the space center, but Entry Flight Director Bryan Lunney and his team cleared the shuttle for landing as conditions improved early Tuesday.

The STS-131 crew was awakened at 10:21 p.m. Monday as mission controllers in Houston played “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson for astronauts Alan Poindexter, James Dutton Jr. Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Clayton Anderson and Japanese Space Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki.

The landing marked the end of Discovery’s next-to-last mission to the International Space Station, with only three scheduled missions remaining before the space shuttle program ends. Discovery will make the final flight Sept. 16, with space shuttle Atlantis to make its final flight May 14 and Endeavour making its last trip into space July 28.

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