U.S. President George W. Bush personally congratulated the Discovery crew on the successful mission
NASA will not suspend further flights of the space shuttle fleet, the Atlantis is due to lift off in the nearest future, according to the latest statement by NASA representative in Moscow. According to NASA representative, the Discovery's successful mission is an inspiring comeback to the Space Shuttle Program.
U.S. President George W. Bush personally congratulated the Discovery crew on the successful mission and said that the astronauts “did a fantastic job.” The safe landing of the Discovery means a real success for the U.S., it will enable NASA to restore the Space Shuttle Program's standing after the Columbia disaster. Mr. Bush used the context for calling the Discovery mission “quite an achievement” and “an important step for NASA.”
However, specialists doubt the success of the operation from the technical point of view. Too many things did not go according to plan. The liftoff was postponed due to a technical problem. The landing was postponed for several times too due to bad weather conditions. Despite all the aggravations, the Discovery landed safely on Tuesday morning at U.S. Air Force base Edwards in California. The landing in Cape Canaveral was canceled due to heavy clouds in the area.
Upon checking external and internal systems of the space vehicle, the crew members stepped out on the runway. Medics and omnipresent journalists were expecting them. “We are glad to be back and we want to congratulate everybody who took part in the program,” said the mission commander Aileen Collins.
NASA specialists are currently busy studying the area of broken insulating tiles and the external fuel tank that shed a large piece of insulating foam shortly after the liftoff. Boeing 747 will carry the Discovery to Cape Canaveral when the technical procedures are complete.
The launch of the Atlantis is scheduled for late September. It will depend on a report on the technical condition of the Discovery. The Atlantis is planned to be launched using the so-called “launching window” which will swing open on September 22nd and will be available for three days. “We will do our best to carry out one more shuttle flight till the end of this year, because the shuttles are needed to complete the construction of the ISS,” said Michael Griffin, the director of NASA. He promptly corrected himself by saying that the launch would only take place “if we're fully ready to go ahead.” NASA promised to reveal an exact date of launch till the end of this week.