The US space shuttle Endeavour deploys a parachute after touching down at Edwards Air Force Base in California November 30, 2008. Endeavour landed safely in California Sunday afternoon after a 16-day trip, as unfavorable weather conditions in Florida prevented the shuttle from landing in its home base in Cape Canaveral. [Xinhua/Reuters]
US space shuttle Endeavour landed safely in California Sunday afternoon after a 16-day trip, as unfavorable weather conditions in Florida prevented the shuttle from landing in its home base in Cape Canaveral.
Residents across Southern California heard two sonic booms around 1:20 p.m. local time (2120 GMT), when Endeavour broke the sound barrier under the sunny sky as it was gliding into local airspace en route to Edwards Air Force Base, more than 150 kilometers north of Los Angeles.
At least one explosion call was received by the Los Angeles Fire Department, when people reacted to the twin sonic booms created by the space shuttle as it flew over the city.
Fire crews were sent to an apartment building near Studio City north of downtown Los Angeles and checked out the apartment complex, but concluded that residents had heard the shuttle, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
NASA announced earlier in the day that it had to reroute the space shuttle's landing in California after canceling two landing attempts in Florida's Kennedy Space Center due to the high winds there. It will cost the space agency over 1 million US dollars to transport the shuttle back to Florida by loading it atop a special Boeing 747.
Endeavour was the first space shuttle to land this year in Edwards Air Force Base, which serves as NASA's backup landing site for its space program.
The space shuttle and its 7-member crew were returning from a successful trip which had helped upgrade the International Space Station for housing bigger crews. Four spacewalks were also conducted during the trip to repair the ISS's power system.
Endeavour's mission was the last by a US space shuttle this year. The next NASA shuttle flight is scheduled for February to install the space station's last solar wing panel.
The US space shuttle Endeavour approaches Edwards Air Force Base in California November 30, 2008. [Xinhua/Reuters]
(Xinhua News Agency December 1, 2008)