Discovery'sastronauts glided to the 11th night landing in shuttle
program history early Sunday, landing at 1:03 a.m. Central time to
wrap up a 4 million mile mission to resupply the International Space
Discovery swooped out of darkness as Commander Kent Rominger set the
shuttle and his crewmates down on Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing
Facility in Florida to successfully complete the first shuttle mission
of the year.
Rominger and Pilot Rick Husband fired Discovery's orbital
maneuvering system engines just before midnight Saturday over Thailand
to enable the spaceship to drop out of orbit for its high speed return
Traveling in an almost due northerly ground track, Discovery crossed
over Costa Rica, the southern Caribbean, northwest Cuba, and the
Florida Everglades before honing in on the Kennedy Space Center.for
the 18th consecutive landing at the Florida spaceport.
Rominger and Husband were joined on the flight deck for entry and
landing by Flight Engineer Ellen Ochoa and Mission Specialist Julie
Payette, while Mission Specialists Tammy Jernigan, Dan Barry and
Valery Tokarev were seated down in the middeck.
After landing, Discovery'sastronauts were scheduled to undergo
routine medical exams and be reunited with their families before
spending the rest of the day relaxing in Florida.
The crew is expected to return to Houston early Monday afternoon,
with their crew arrival at Ellington Field planned for about 1:30
p.m. The STS-96 crew's return to Ellington is open to the public.