The Columbia astronauts’ joy to be home was loud and clear Saturday when the space shuttle landed safely, ending a 16-day mission fraught with anxiety and disappointment.
“Yeah!” “All right!” they shouted after Columbia rolled to a stop.
“We copy your elation,” Mission Control said. “Welcome back.”
The seven crewmen had to leave behind a satellite-on-a-cord and had to land with one less data-relay channel than desired.
“It is as if I had left some part of myself there in space,” Italian astronaut Maurizio Cheli said of his country’s tethered satellite. “It’s a very disappointing feeling, this for sure.”