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Discovery touches down at Kennedy

Safe homecoming for STS-131 mission

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Space shuttle Discovery touched down at Kennedy Space Center at 13:08 GMT today, marking the end of its STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. A first landing attempt yesterday was waved off because of rain and cloud.

Discovery touches down at Kennedy. Pic: NASA TVDiscovery lifted off on 5 April, carrying the Leonardo multi-purpose logistics module packed with science racks (full details on those in the press kit, pdf).

During the 15-day trip, mission specialists Clayton Anderson and Rick Mastracchio ventured outside the orbiting outpost three times to replace an Ammonia Tank Assembly which forms part of the station's cooling system. The pair also retrieved a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior for return to Earth and switched out a rate gyro assembly on the station's truss.

There now remain just three shuttle missions, all to the ISS: Atlantis's STS-132 mission on 14 May, Endeavour's STS-134 on 29 July and Discovery's STS-133, scheduled for launch on 16 September.

The Leonardo module will return to the ISS on Discovery's final mission, and be docked as a permanent extension to the station. ®

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