US space shuttle Endeavour lands in Florida
CAPE CANAVERAL: The US space shuttle Endeavour successfully
landed in Florida late last night after a two-week mission to install a new module on the International Space Station.The shuttle touched down on a coastal runway at the Kennedy Space
Centre here at 10:20 pm (0320 GMT Monday) after the cloudy weather in the area improved enough for Endeavour to be cleared for landing.
As Endeavour’s mission ended, NASA was focused on the shuttle’s looming retirement and trying to ensure long-running efforts to assemble the International Space Station reach the finish line.
Four remaining US shuttle missions are intended to bring the 12-year effort by the United States and its partners in Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada to assemble and outfit the sprawling orbital laboratory to a close by late September.
The Endeavour astronauts successfully delivered and installed Tranquility, the last of the habitable modules contributed by the United States to the space station.
Working with the five astronauts on the
station, the shuttle crew outfitted the new module with critical life support systems, exercise equipment and a roomy observation deck.
They also revived the station’s water recovery system, the hardware that recovers drinking water from urine and moisture in the breathing air.
The new observation dome surrounds a control post for the robot arm
that will play a crucial
role in docking the commercial cargo capsules NASA will rely on to deliver supplies after the shuttle’s retirement.
It also offers those living aboard the station unprecedented views of the Earth below.
“Arguably, mankind has been after this view for centuries, this perspective, this view of the world,” said Endeavour commander George Zamka.
President Barack Obama doted over the new Earthly panoramas as he spoke with Zamka and his crew, Terry Virts, Kay Hire, Steve Robinson, Bob Behnken and Nicholas Patrick last week.