Space Shuttle Discovery returns to Earth after successful mission

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Washington, September 12 (ANI): Space shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven astronauts has returned to Earth after a successful mission called STS-128, in which the team delivered two refrigerator-sized science racks to the International Space Station (ISS).

One rack will be used to conduct experiments on materials such as metals, glasses and ceramics.

The results from these experiments could lead to the development of better materials on Earth. The other rack will be used for fluid physics research.

Understanding how fluids react in microgravity could lead to improved designs for fuel tanks, water systems and other fluid-based systems.

STS-128 Commander Rick Sturckow was joined on the mission by Pilot Kevin Ford, Mission Specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang.

NASA astronaut Nicole Stott flew to the complex aboard Discovery to begin a nearly three-month mission as a station resident, replacing Tim Kopra, who returned home on Discovery.

In addition to carrying a new station crew member, Discovery and the crew also delivered a new sleeping compartment, an air purification system and a treadmill named after comedian Stephen Colbert.

The mission included three spacewalks that replaced experiments outside the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory and an empty ammonia storage tank. eather concerns prevented the crew from returning to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the primary end-of-mission landing site.

In 7-10 days, Discovery will be transported approximately 2,500 miles from California to Florida on the back of a modified 747 jumbo jet.

Once at Kennedy, Discovery will be separated from the aircraft to begin processing for its next flight, targeted for March 2010. (ANI)

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