The orbiter Discovery looks like a blue ghost as it drops from the darkness onto lighted runway 33 at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility. After traveling more than 3,267,000 miles on a successful eight-day mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, the orbiter touches down at 7:00:47 p.m. EST. Aboard are Commander Curtis L. Brown Jr., Pilot Scott J. Kelly, and Mission Specialists Steven L. Smith, C. Michael Foale (Ph.D.), John M. Grunsfeld (Ph.D.), Claude Nicollier of Switzerland and Jean-Frangois Clervoy of France, who spent the Christmas holiday in space in order to accomplish their mission before the end of 1999. During the mission, Discovery's four space-walking astronauts, Smith, Foale, Grunsfeld and Nicollier, spent 24 hours and 33 minutes upgrading and refurbishing Hubble, making it more capable than ever to renew its observations of the universe. Mission objectives included replacing gyroscopes and an old computer, installing another solid state recorder, and replacing damaged insulation in the telescope. Hubble was released from the end of Discovery's robot arm on Christmas Day. This was the 96th flight in the Space Shuttle program and the 27th for the orbiter Discovery. The landing was the 20th consecutive Shuttle landing in Florida and the 13th night landing in Shuttle program history. (Photo Release Date: 12/27/1999 )
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