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, Discovery Heads Home


Space Shuttle Discovery and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft landed safely 
at Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma at 2:35 p.m. EDT for a 2-hour 
refueling stop. Weather permitting, they will then continue the 
cross-country ferry flight to an overnight stop at Barksdale Air Force 
Base in Louisiana. Plans call for Discovery to arrive at Kennedy Space 
Center in Florida late Saturday morning.

Flying ahead of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft by about 100 miles is a 
"pathfinder" KC-135 aircraft, which monitors the weather in the flight 
path for the 747's crew.
+ Discovery's Homecoming Photo Gallery 
+ Latest from Dryden 
<http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/home/index.html> | + Media Advisory 
+ Previous Ferry Flights From the Dryden Photo Gallery 
+ Landing Photo Gallery 
<http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight/multimedia/landing_gallery.html> | + 
Archived Landing Coverage 

NASA announced yesterday that the next Space Shuttle mission, STS-121, 
is now targeted for March 2006. This will be the second test flight to 
the International Space Station in the Shuttle Return to Flight series. 
NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and Associate Administrator for Space 
Operations William Gerstenmaeir made the announcement at a briefing on 
August 18th.

"We are giving ourselves what we hope is plenty of time to evaluate 
where we are," said Administrator Griffin. "We don't see the tasks 
remaining before us being as difficult as the path behind us."
+ View Transcript (53 Kb PDF) 
| + Read Press Release 

A pair of "Tiger Teams" continues to investigate the External Tank foam 
loss during Discovery's launch on July 26. Gerstenmaier says the teams 
have identified the major areas of concern and are making good progress 
on dealing with the problems.

Discovery will be used for STS-121 instead of Atlantis, putting NASA in 
a better position for future missions to the Space Station. Atlantis 
will fly the following mission, STS-115, carrying Space Station truss 
segments which are too heavy to be carried by Discovery. By changing the 
lineup, the program won't have to fly back to back missions with 
Atlantis, as was previously scheduled.
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