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Space shuttle lands in California after detour

A file photo

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE (AP/PTI): Space shuttle Discovery and its seven astronauts took a cross-country detour and landed safely in California after stormy weather prevented them from returning home to Florida for the second day in a row.

Discovery swooped through the sky and touched down at Edwards Air Force Base an hour before sunset, Friday, ending its delivery trip to the international space station.

"Welcome home, Discovery," Mission Control radioed.

"Congratulations on an extremely successful mission."

Stormy weather made it too risky to bring Discovery back to its home port Thursday, and conditions were even worse Friday. So flight director Richard Jones opted for the sunny skies of the Mojave Desert.

NASA prefers Florida landings because the cross-country ferry trip, which involves transporting the shuttle atop a modified jumbo jet, costs USD 1.7 million and takes more than a week.

Thunderstorms also delayed the beginning of Discovery's mission. The shuttle blasted off August 28 and logged 5.7 million miles.

Discovery and its crew, led by Commander Rick Sturckow, dropped off tons of supplies and equipment, including a USD 5 million treadmills named after Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert.

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