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Shuttle Makes First Nighttime Landing in Florida

September 23, 1993| From Associated Press

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Discovery and its crew glided home Wednesday to the first shuttle landing in the Florida darkness after a mission that boosted NASA's confidence in its ability to fix the Hubble Space Telescope.

All of the tribulations during two months of delays leading to liftoff paid off in the end, said Bob Sieck, National Aeronautics and Space Administration's launch director. "That was a super ending to a super mission," he said.

Shuttle commander Frank Culbertson Jr. landed Discovery at Kennedy just before 1 a.m. PDT. He and the four other astronauts had planned to return Tuesday, but rain kept them in orbit a 10th day.

The nighttime landing was the sixth in darkness in 57 shuttle flights and the first in two years. The others were at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

During their nearly flawless flight, the astronauts tested tools and spacewalking techniques that another crew will use in December to correct Hubble's vision. Hubble mission planners said the seven-hour spacewalk demonstrated the reliability of the tools, most notably a power ratchet and portable work platform. The astronauts also released an experimental communications satellite.

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