Discovery is safe
Space Shuttle Discovery just landed safely. Yay!
Following the tragic loss of the Shuttle Columbia, NASA modified the shuttle to carry more cameras and other equipment to improve detection of damage should it occur during a mission.
Despite all the media coverage media concerning the 'safety' of Discovery, STS-114 has probably been a lot safer than the preceding 113 shuttle missions due to this detection equipment.
Not that I am complaining about the media coverage - it was quite fun to watch the shuttle landing, sounds and all. I don't remember seeing extended coverage of a landing since the 1980s.
The BBC quoted an alarming statistic. Apparently NASA estimates that of 100 astronauts who make a journey into space on the shuttle, 1 is not expected to come home.
One bonus of developing methods of repairing the shuttle in space is that this gives the International Space Station another vital function - acting as a space garage. If we are to continue to made 'manned' space missions, it makes sense to have a refuge for the astronauts/cosmonauts/euronauts in case anything goes wrong while they are floating in a tin can.
As Discovery landed at Edwards Airforce Base in California it will need a piggyback ride on a 747 back to the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, which will take 7 to 10 days.