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After 13 days of suspense, the Discovery space shuttle returned home safely on Tuesday morning US time.

For all of last week, NASA and most of the world worried about Discovery's homecoming, as its crew conducted complex repairs on the craft, to ensure that it did not meet the fate of the Columbia, which tragically disintegrated on its re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.

What added to the tension was NASA's decision to extend Discovery's stay in space an extra day last week, and thereafter extend it one more time on Monday when it was deemed too risky to let the shuttle land in bad weather in Florida.

Among those praying for Discovery's safe return to earth were students at the Tagore Bal Niketan Senior Secondary School in Karnal, Haryana, where Kalpana Chawla, one of the Columbia's ill-fated astronauts, schooled.

Photograph: NASA via Getty Images

Also See: Remembering Heroes

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