NASA's final Shuttle mission of 1996 concluded early this morning as
Space Shuttle Columbia glided to a 5:49 a.m. central time landing at
the Kennedy Space Center. The landing brought to an end a
record-setting 18-day, seven million mile journey.
Weather which had caused two landing waveoffs the past two days was
not a player in today's landing decision. A cold front which passed
through the KSC area last night produced clear skies for Columbia's
The STS-80 mission is the longest Shuttle mission ever flown by NASA.
The previous mark of 16 days, 21 hours, 48 minutes set in July by the
STS-78 crew, was eclipsed late yesterday morning. The official
mission duration for STS-80 is 17 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes.
Following post-landing safing of orbiter systems and removal of time
critical experiments, Columbia will be towed from the Shuttle Landing
Facility to the orbiter processing facility. About six hours after
landing, Commander Ken Cockrell and any available crew members will
participate in a post-landing press conference from KSC.
A decision on when Columbia's crew will return to Ellington Field will
be made later this morning.