Image: Space Shuttle Discovery Returns To Cape Canaveral From California
Matt Stroshane  /  Getty Images
Photographers snap pictures as the space shuttle Discovery returns to NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Monday atop a modified Boeing 747 airplane.
updated 9/21/2009 12:34:03 PM ET 2009-09-21T16:34:03

Ten days after descending from space to a California landing, the space shuttle Discovery made yet another landing on Monday — this time at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, atop a modified jumbo jet.

The touchdown at the shuttle fleet's home base came at the end of a two-day, cross-country flight from Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert. Discovery had to land at the Edwards backup site when it returned from the international space station on Sept. 11, due to stormy weather at the Kennedy Space Center's runway.

In the days since that landing, the shuttle was prepared and mounted piggyback fashion on NASA's modified Boeing 747 airplane. The shuttle-jet combo took off from Edwards early Sunday and made refueling stopovers in Fort Worth, Texas, and Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The final three-hour leg of the trip came on Monday morning.

NASA estimates the cost of such ferry trips at $1.8 million.

During its two-week mission to the space station, Discovery brought up tons of experiments, supplies and equipment — including a treadmill named after TV comedian Stephen Colbert. The mission also featured a crew exchange, as well as three spacewalks to replace a coolant tank and install other equipment on the station's exterior.

Discovery will now be readied for its next launch, scheduled for March 18 next year. The flight is one of six missions NASA hopes to send to the space station before the shuttle fleet is retired.

More on shuttle Discovery | international space station

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Video: Discovery returns home


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