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Low cloud ceiling and showers force Discovery and seven astronauts to wave off today's first landing attempt at 8:48 a.m. Next opportunity is at 10:23 a.m.
When the shuttle enters successfully into the earth's atmosphere, it flies like an airplane. It is designed in such a way that it can generate lift with a small wing area. A series of s-shaped turns are made to slow the speed as it approaches the runway.
At 25 miles above, the shuttle's computer give the control to the commander. The commander flies the shuttle around an imaginary cylinder to line the orbiter with the runway and drop the altitude. During final approach, the commander steepens the angle of descent to minus 20 degree.
When the shuttle is 610m above the ground, the commander pulls the nose to slow the rate of descent. The pilot deploys the landing gear and the shuttle touches down. The commander applies brakes and the speed brake on the vertical tail opens up. A parachute is deployed from the back to stop the shuttle. The parachute and speed brakes increase the drag and stops the shuttle about the midway to three quarters down the runway.