Space shuttle Endeavour landed safely at the Kennedy Space
Center, Florida, on Tuesday after completing a shortened, 13-day
construction mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Space Shuttle
Endeavour lands at the Kennedy Space Center in this view from NASA
TV, August 21, 2007.
The much-publicized hole in the protective tiles covering the
shuttle's underbelly did not impact the vehicle's reentry and no
unusual conditions were reported during the period of maximum
The shuttle, with a crew of seven astronauts, touched down at
12:32 PM EDT (1632 GMT) at the Shuttle Landing Facility of the
Kennedy Space Center, where weather conditions were ideal for the
Scott Kelly, a first-time commander, and pilot Charlie Hobaugh
guided the shuttle on its fiery plunge through the atmosphere and
hour-long free-fall descent back to Earth. They then precisely
executed a series of turns and banking maneuvers that slowed the
vehicle for its landing on a 3-mile (4.8 kilometer) long runway at
the Kennedy Space Center.
Ground support crews have approached the spacecraft and begun
the process of "safing" the vehicle -- the purging of toxic
propellants and substances -- in preparation for the crew's
Endeavour's next mission is scheduled for mid-February 2008.
Endeavour is landing one day earlier than planned due to
measures taken late last week to ensure that NASA's Mission Control
operations in Houston, Texas were not interrupted by Hurricane
Dean. At the time, it appeared the massive storm could swing north
to hit coastal Texas and prompt an evacuation of Mission Control,
Although the threats of Hurricane Dean are bating considerably,
NASA still decided to take no chances and chose to let the shuttle
land at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, instead of the Johnson
Space Center in Houston of Texas.
The shuttle, launched on Aug. 8 and docked with the ISS two day
later, hauled a total of 4,270 pounds (1,936 kilograms) of cargo to
the space station alongside a new external spare parts platform and
a new starboard girder for the orbital laboratory's backbone-like
main truss. Astronauts from the shuttle and station completed a
total of 4 spacewalks during the mission.
Endeavour's crew included the first flight of
teacher-turned-astronaut Barbara Morgan, who first joined NASA as
the backup to Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe before the 1986
Challenger accident. Morgan rejoined NASA in 1998 as a mission
specialist and educator astronaut.
A former Idaho schoolteacher, Morgan delivered cinnamon basil
seeds and a pair of plant growth chambers to the ISS as part of her
education mission. She also spoke to students via video links and
ham radio, answering questions with her crewmates to describe life
(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2007)