The six astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour glided to a smooth landing at the Kennedy Space Center at sunset today, wrapping up their 11-day radar mapping mission, the first human space flight of the 21st century.
With Commander Kevin Kregel at the controls, Endeavour touched down at 5:22 p.m Central time on Runway 33 at the three mile long Shuttle Landing Facility to complete a mission spanning almost 4.7 million statute miles. Pilot Dom Gorie, Flight Engineer Janet Kavandi and Mission Specialist Janice Voss joined Kregel on the flight deck for entry and landing. Mission Specialist Mamoru Mohri from NASDA, the Japanese space agency, and European Space Agency astronaut Gerhard Thiele were seated down in the middeck. The end of the STS-99 mission marked the 21st consecutive landing at the Florida spaceport.
After waving off the first landing opportunity of the day because of high cross winds at the landing site, the crew was given a "go" to perform the deorbit burn which came at 4:24 p.m. Central time and caused Endeavour to fall out of its 150 statute mile high orbit to start the journey home to the Kennedy Space Center.
The data brought home by Endeavour's crew was collected during more than 222 hours of around-the-clock radar mapping operations and is enough to fill more than 20,000 CDs. The information gathered on the STS-99 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission will be used to produce global maps more accurate than any available today.
The STS-99 crew will spend the evening in Florida before returning to Houston on Wednesday. The crew should land at Ellington Field in Houston near the Johnson Space Center at about 1:30 p.m. Central time where the six astronauts will be greeted by JSC management and center employees. The crew return ceremony will occur at Hangar 990 and is open to the general public. It will not be broadcast on NASA Television.
Further updates on the time of the crew return ceremony can be obtained by calling the JSC newsroom at 281/483-5111 on Wednesday morning after 10:30 a.m.
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