Space shuttle returns safely to Earth - World - Times Online

Space shuttle returns safely to Earth - World - Times Online:

Discovery touched down safely in Florida this afternoon, marking the revival of Nasa's manned spaceflight programme after three years tinged by disaster and persistent doubts about the safety of its shuttle fleet.

After 13 days in space and a journey of 5.3 million miles (8.53 million kilometres), the space shuttle's tyres hit the runway at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral at 9.14am local time (2.14pm BST) to be greeted by Mission Control: 'Welcome back Discovery and congratulations on a great mission.'

I'm certainly happy the astronauts made it safely back to Earth - but one successful space trip does not a successful shuttle design make. After all, there were 100 successful trips interleaved with the other two tragic shuttle missions.

Hopefully (but I doubt it) NASA will continue to be super-careful and go through all of these examinations with the same thoroughness after every flight.