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Space Shuttle Discovery Lands in California

The U.S. space shuttle Discovery has successfully landed at its backup site in California after bad weather prevented its return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery and its seven-astronaut crew touched down at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert Friday on schedule (at 8:53 pm EDT), making this the 54th shuttle landing there.

NASA prefers to land shuttles in Florida, because it saves the trouble and expense of ferrying them back to the Kennedy Space Center atop a specially modified jumbo jet.

The Discovery astronauts returned from a two-week mission that included delivering nearly 8,000 kilograms of equipment to the International Space Station.

The shuttle brought back U.S. astronaut Tim Kopra, who had been in orbit for two months. Another American astronaut, Nicole Stott, replaced him as one of the six crew members aboard the orbiting output.

NASA plans six more shuttle flights before retiring the fleet next year. After that, Russian and private space programs will be used to deliver supplies to the space station.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.