Space shuttle Discovery wraps up mission that went 'above and beyond'
The space shuttle Discovery left the International Space Station behind having done everything it was scheduled to do and more. It is set to land Wednesday.
If all goes well and the space shuttle Discovery and its six-member crew return safely to Earth on Wednesday, the orbiter's final trip may well go down as the program's "above and beyond" mission.Skip to next paragraph
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Spacewalks and indoor tasks were performed so quickly and efficiently that managers added two days to Discovery's docked time at the space station to help the station crew get ahead on some jobs that would otherwise have fallen to space-station crew members.
Typically, "we don't do docked missions and add a couple of extra days," he said.
"Every one of these missions tend to take on their own character," Mr. Todd said. On this mission, "we had some bumps along the way."
Indeed, the launch was delayed for several months as engineers tackled a problem with Discovery's external fuel tank.
But once the shuttle and crew were in space, the orbiter's systems performed so well that "nothing threatened to change the mission profile" or the objectives the mission aimed to accomplish, Todd said.
Too fast for Houston
This git-'er-done mentality carried over into tasks the shuttle crew performed after leaving the space station.
At one point, shuttle commander Steven Lindsey was preparing a key component of the shuttle's navigation system for the return home. Apparently he managed to get a step or two ahead of controllers in Houston trying to choreograph the procedure.
"Discovery? You are 'go' for what you just did," came the comment from mission control, with a barely masked chuckle.
"Sounds a lot better than 'no go' for what I just did," Lindsey shot back.