Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP) -- Space shuttle Discovery and its seven astronauts safely returned to Earth on Friday after some last-minute suspense over which landing site to use, closing out a year in which NASA finally got construction of the international space station back on track.
Its arrival announced by its signature twin sonic booms, the spaceship touched down on a floodlit runway in the early evening darkness after a smooth, 13-day flight during which the astronauts rewired the space station and delivered U.S. astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams to the orbiting outpost for a six-month stay.
"We're just really proud of the NASA team that put it together," said Discovery commander Mark Polansky. "We think it's going to be a great holiday."
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