The crew of the space shuttle Discovery has returned to Earth after completing a more than two-week mission to the International Space Station. VOA's Brian Wagner reports that the astronauts performed crucial construction and repair work on the orbiter.
Commander Pamela Melroy and the crew of the shuttle Discovery ended their mission by flying east across the United States before touching down. NASA's Mission Control followed the shuttle as it came in to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
MELROY: "Discovery is rolling out on runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center, wrapping up a 6.25 million mile mission. Discovery completing its 34th mission to space and the 23rd shuttle flight to the International Space Station."
One of those returning with Discovery was astronaut Clayton Anderson who was working aboard the space station since June.
Last month, NASA officials described Discovery's mission, which was to include five spacewalks, as one of the most difficult and eventful in the program's history.
After docking with the orbiter, the shuttle crew installed a new pressurized compartment called Harmony, which will expand room for astronauts working in space. Crewmembers also moved an enormous truss from a temporary position to its permanent spot on the station.
NASA officials then were forced to make last-minute changes to the astronauts' schedule of spacewalks to fix equipment problems. Officials ordered the astronauts to examine a malfunctioning joint on one solar panel, and Scott Parazynski left the orbiter to repair tears in the station's solar wings.
Astronaut spacewalks are often rehearsed for weeks in advance, but officials said the unplanned spacewalks were needed to avoid delays to future missions.
On December 6, the space shuttle Atlantis is to launch a mission to deliver a European-built laboratory to the international orbiter.