"A Heck Of A Mission," According to Melroy
NASA's Discovery astronauts who
fixed the solar panels during a spacewalk this week earned the
praise of President Bush after he watched the event from the edge
of his White House chair last week.
Bush was also among the first to greet shuttle commander Pam
Melroy and her six-member crew upon their arrival at Houston, after
a perfect landing in Florida.
"Wow, what a terrific mission!" Bush said as he met with the
astronauts and their families outside Air Force One on the tarmac
at Ellington Field, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"This was a heck of a mission," said Melroy, who rubbed away a
few tears as she introduced each member of her crew and
painstakingly thanked a long list of personnel who trained the
astronauts and watched over them in space. "It was an experience we
will never forget."
The 15-day mission to prepare the international space station
for the arrival of European and Japanese science modules was tense
during the repair of tears in a crucial solar-power panel they were
relocating. A spacewalk by astronauts Scott Parazynski and Doug
Wheelock managed to recover enough electrical power from the
damaged 110-foot-long panel to keep NASA's space station powered up, as
reported in ANN.
"It was an awesome sight," Wheelock told the Ellington gathering
as he described Parazynski working on the electrically charged
panel more than 70 feet above him while perched on the tip of the
station's outstretched robot arm. "You can't do this unless you
live and breathe this business."
On board Discovery was Clay Anderson, who returned to Earth
after a 152-day space station mission.
A bit wobbly after his lengthy weightlessness adventure,
Anderson sat while introduced to a standing ovation by the rest of
"I would stand up, but the room would start to spin very
rapidly, I'd probably crash through the floor," Anderson said,
poking fun at himself. "To those of you sitting through this whole
thing, I haven't used my bottom in over five months, and it's
The White House contacted NASA earlier in the week to request
the private meeting at Ellington, said Johnson Space Center
spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley.
"It's always a really great experience for a crew, especially
one that worked has hard as Discovery's, to meet with the
president," she said. "We were delighted he took the time while he
was here to meet with the Discovery astronauts."