Space shuttle Discovery touched down safely today at Kennedy Space Center at 11:58 am (EST). The touchdown saw the spacecraft end its 27-year spaceflight career and complete its final mission into space.
The runway is to be marked to show where Discovery's mission finally ended. During its prolific career the spacecraft undertook 39 flights. The final stop for the orbiter would be retirement from service and the shuttle will eventually be placed on public display in a museum.
NASA wrote on its landing blog that the cheers from the crowd were audible all the way up in the air traffic control tower.
According to shuttle astronaut Michael Barrat the legacy that the Discovery leaves behind is quite incredible. He added that the spacecraft had been "space-kindly" to its crews largely due to the team of engineers that maintains the ship. He added that though it was for the last time the astronauts would really look forward to bringing the ship back to her home port and back into those caring hands.
Following an early wake-up call this morning, the crew started making landing preparations at 6:53 a.m. EST. The shuttle's payload bay doors were closed at 8:12am EST following which the astronauts fired Discovery's orbital maneuvering system engines for about three minutes. This is known as a deorbit burn and it slows down the shuttle enough for it to begin its hour-long descent.
The distinctive sound of the arriving space shuttle reverberated across Florida's Space Coast for the last time as Discovery made its presence known before the crew brought it to a safe halt.