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'DISCOVERY' LANDS IN CALIF.

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Space shuttle Discovery and its seven astronauts took a cross-country detour and landed safely in California on Friday after stormy weather prevented them from returning home to Florida for the second day in a row.

Discovery touched down at Edwards Air Force Base an hour before sunset.

"Welcome home, Discovery," Mission Control radioed. "Congratulations on an extremely successful mission."

Stormy weather made it too risky to bring Discovery back to its home port Thursday, and conditions were even worse Friday.

NASA prefers Florida landings because the cross-country ferry trip, which involves transporting the shuttle atop a modified jumbo jet, costs $1.7 million and takes more than a week.

Thunderstorms also delayed the beginning of Discovery's mission. The shuttle blasted off Aug. 28 and logged 5.7 million miles.

The shuttle returned without Clearwater High grad Nicole Stott, who will stay at the space station until November, but with Buzz Lightyear. The 12-inch action figure flew up in mid 2008 as part of an educational program. It will return to Walt Disney World for a tickertape parade in October.

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