NASA's Shuttle Endeavour Glides Home After Successful Mission
EDWARDS, Calif. - Space shuttle Endeavour and its crew landed at 1:25 p.m. PST Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in California, completing a 16-day journey of more than 6.6 million miles.
The STS-126 mission featured important repair work and prepared the International Space Station to house six crew members on long-duration missions beginning next year. The new station equipment includes a water recovery system, additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and an exercise device. During four spacewalks, the crew serviced the station's two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which allow its solar arrays to track the sun, and installed new hardware that will support future assembly missions.
Chris Ferguson commanded the flight and was joined by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough and Sandra Magnus. Magnus remained aboard the station, replacing Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff, who returned to Earth on Endeavour after more than five months on the station.
Weather concerns prevented the crew from returning to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the primary end-of-mission landing site. In 7-10 days, Endeavour will be transported approximately 2,500 miles from California to Florida on the back of a modified 747 jumbo jet. Once at Kennedy, Endeavour will be separated from the aircraft to begin immediate processing for its next flight, targeted for May 2009.
STS-126 was the 124th space shuttle mission, the 22nd flight for Endeavour and the 27th shuttle visit to the station.
With Endeavour and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the launch of STS-119, targeted for Feb. 12, 2009. Discovery will deliver the final pair of U.S. solar arrays, which will be installed on the starboard end of the station's truss. The truss serves as the backbone support for external equipment and spare components.
Lee Archambault will command the 14-day flight that will include four planned spacewalks. Joining him will be Pilot Tony Antonelli, Mission Specialists John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Joseph Acaba and Richard Arnold, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata will replace Magnus on the station as a flight engineer.
For more about the STS-126 mission and the upcoming STS-119 mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
For more about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
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