RARE SIGHTING SPACE SHUTTLE LANDS AT EDWARDS.Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE Edwards Air Force Base, U.S. military installation, 301,000 acres (121,805 hectares), S Calif., NE of Lancaster; est. 1933. It is one of the largest air force bases in the United States and has the world's longest runway. - Detoured by bad weather over Florida, the space shuttle Discovery made a picture-perfect landing Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base, marking the first Edwards landing by a shuttle in more than four years.
Discovery's 1:59 p.m. landing concluded a nearly 13-day mission to ready the International Space Station for its first crew, with a NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. official rating the astronauts' performance ``an A-plus.''
``This is one of the most complex missions we've ever done,'' Ron Dittemore, National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), civilian agency of the U.S. federal government with the mission of conducting research and developing operational programs in the areas of space exploration, artificial satellites (see satellite, artificial), shuttle program manager, said after Discovery was back on Earth. ``We're raising the bar on what we're doing. The crew did a great job.''
About 2,000 people watched from a hillside viewing area near Dryden Flight Research Center The Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), located inside Edwards Air Force Base, is an aeronautical research center operated by NASA. On March 26, 1976 it was named in honor of the late Hugh L. . The crowd cheered when Discovery appeared as a white dot in the cloudless sky, cheered again upon hearing the shuttle's signature twin sonic booms and cheered a third time when the shuttle landing gear kicked up dust on Edwards' main runway.
The shuttle's flight path took it over the center of Los Angeles and across the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. , making its sonic booms audible to millions.
The landing was a return trip for Discovery pilot Pam Melroy, who graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards in 1992.
Melroy, who told the Daily News in 1994 that she had dreamed of flying in space since she was 11, was making her first space flight on Discovery.
The last time a shuttle landed at Edwards was in March 1996, when Atlantis landed there because of cloudy skies in Florida.
A Florida landing avoids the time and expense of returning the shuttle cross-country atop a 747 for its next launch. Gusty gust·y
adj. gust·i·er, gust·i·est
1. Blowing in or marked by gusts: a gusty storm.
2. Characterized by sudden outbursts. winds Monday and Tuesday at Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) U.S.
launch site for manned space missions. [U.S. Hist.: WB, So:562]
See : Astronautics , however, caused NASA to divert Discovery to Edwards.
(color) The space shuttle Discovery touches down Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base after bad weather in Florida forced the California landing.
Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News