A jumbo jet carrying the space shuttle Discovery landed here Friday, concluding a cross-country journey home after an overnight stop in Texas.
The Boeing 747 transport took off from Kelly Air Force Base near San Antonio and arrived at the space center here three hours later, touching down on a runway three miles from the launching pad.
The transport with Discovery aboard left Edwards Air Force Base in California on Thursday and flew to Kelly, where it was refueled and spent the night.
Discovery blasted off March 13 on a five-day mission that deployed the last of three Tracking and Data Relay Satellites to complete NASA’s shuttle communications system. The orbiter landed at dawn last Saturday in the California desert.
After removing the shuttle from the transport, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will begin preparing it for a Defense Department mission in August.
Meanwhile, in Louisville, Ky., the world’s first “space chicks” began breaking out of their shells Friday. The Discovery had carried 32 chicken eggs into space as part of an experiment in embryo development.
When the shuttle returned, the embryos in half of the eggs were examined to determine if any differences existed in tissue, muscle or organ development with eggs that stayed on earth. The remaining half of the eggs were allowed to hatch. The chickens will be monitored into adulthood.
Atlantis is scheduled to make the next shuttle flight, with launching set for April 28.