Columbia touches down
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Courtesy of NASA
Excellent Landing Doesn't Do Away with Disappointment
News story originally written on December 5, 1997
Columbia wrapped up its 16-day, six and a half million mile mission early this morning. Touchdown was at 6:20 a.m. CDT. The landing was an excellent one.
On the mission, astronauts completed microgravity research and tested tools and techniques that will be used for the building of the International Space Station. Despite a good landing and successful research, one thing keeps the astronauts from being simply satisfied.
During the mission, the SPARTAN satellite was deployed, but it malfunctioned within minutes of being released. When recovery of the satellite was attempted, astronaut Chawla acidentally bumped the satellite with the shuttle robotic arm which sent the satellite tumbling. Most of the mission from this point on was focussed on retrieving the satellite. While scientists are happy to have their satellite back, the craft was unable to make a single observation of the Sun. Disappointment can be seen in the faces of crew STS-87.
The astronauts are scheduled to reunite with their families tonight in Houston, Texas.
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