After an almost 16-day mission to the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle Endeavour has landed at Edwards Air Force Base in the Southern California high desert. Endeavour descended under clear blue skies under bright afternoon sun, a loud sonic boom announcing its arrival over the desert airbase. After a 340-degree overhead loop to bleed off altitude and speed, Commander Chris Ferguson flew Endeavour to touchdown on runway 04-left at Edwards at 1:25.06 p.m. PST.
Mission managers had earlier decided that weather conditions along Florida's east coast were not adequate to support a safe landing at the Kennedy Space Center, and the decision was made to have Endeavour end its mission STS-126 at Edwards.
On the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, Endeavour's commander Chris Ferguson, joined by pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Steve Bowen and Shane Kimbrough, thanked NASA employees throughout the agency for their help in making STS-126 a successful mission.
"It was a very ambitious mission, over 15 days long. It was a home improvement mission," Ferguson said.
"We improved the space station inside and out with the water recycling system and the Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which Heidi and her team so adeptly managed to repair (and) from what I hear is performing well. It is great to be back on the ground and in California."
Endeavour and its seven-person crew were in space for 15 days, 20 hours and 30 minutes after launch on Nov. 14. Endeavour arrived at the station Nov. 16, delivering equipment that will help allow the station to double its crew size to six next year. In addition, the STS-126 astronauts delivered space station Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Sandra Magnus, who replaced Greg Chamitoff, who returned to Earth aboard Endeavour.
STS-126 was the 124th shuttle mission, the 22nd flight for Endeavour and 27th shuttle flight to visit the space station.
› STS-126 Mission Home Page