RUSSIAN MISSION CONTROL (Korolyov), August 9 (RIA Novosti) - The space shuttle Discovery successfully landed at Edwards Air Force base in California, where it was greeted with a storm of applause, a source in Russia's Mission Control Center said Tuesday. The first shuttle mission since the Columbia tragedy on February 1, 2003 has been completed. However, problems with thermal layers during Discovery's launch and repairs of the shuttle at the International Space Station (ISS) have forced the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to suspend the flights of multiple-use spacecraft.
"Several billion dollars spent to repair the shuttle after fragments of thermal foam and tile broke off during the launch have simply been wasted," a Russian space expert said.
He said it would now fall to Russia to rotate the ISS crew and deliver cargo and new equipment to the station.