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Discovery returns this morning

Departing Alpha Commander Bill Shepherd shakes hands with incoming Commander Yury Usachev in a ceremony marking the first crew change for space station Alpha  

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas -- After stormy weather cleared in Florida, space shuttle Discovery prepared to land this morning early Wednesday.

NASA had waived off the first landing opportunity at 12:56 a.m. EST because Entry Flight Director Wayne Hale and his team were concerned about low clouds, possible rain and gusty crosswinds at the Florida landing site.

But as weather cleared, NASA decided to bring the shuttle back from its visit to the international space station Alpha.

First space station crew returns to Earth

Discovery is returning from a mission to deliver a new crew to international space station Alpha: Russian Commander Yury Usachev, and U.S. astronauts Susan Helms and Jim Voss.


The trio had to deal with a fire alarm in the Destiny science lab shortly after Discovery undocked late Sunday. They didn't find any smoke or signs of a fire and NASA declared the situation a false alarm.

Later, Usachev, Helms and Voss began settling into their new home and shift schedule. That means waking up at midnight, beginning their exercise routines and setting up a toilet for Helms, the station's first female crew member.

Discovery also carried up experiments for the space station, including research on the long-term effects of low gravity on humans.

The original Alpha crew, U.S. Commander Bill Shepherd and his two Russian crewmates, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, will return with Discovery after 4 1/2 months aboard Alpha.

The three will ride back to Earth in reclining seats to help them cope with the effects of gravity. Each crew member will undergo lengthy rehabilitation to rebuild muscles and bones that deteriorated during their long stay in orbit.

Shuttle bringing back space station's first crew
March 19, 2001
Alpha crew tackles false fire alarm
March 19, 2001
Trash-filled module put back in space shuttle
March 18, 2001
Astronaut's rehab therapist will be his wife
March 19, 2001
Shuttle mission extended
March 16, 2001
Shuttle to stay docked to Alpha an extra day
March 15, 2001

NASA Human SpaceFlight

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