Back on earth

After what probably appeared to earthbound viewers everywhere to be a ridiculously pedantic mission, Discovery landed safely this morning at Edwards AFB in California.

No shuttle mission has been this closely scrutinized, and to public eyes Discovery seemed to encounter crisis after crisis: falling foam, tile damage, loose gap fillers, thermal blankets. However, the crew handled each “crisis” successfully, and the truth is, STS-114 was by design a shakedown cruise to prove the shuttle was still safe. And it is. At least, as safe as hurling seven people into low orbit strapped to a rocket can be.

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