Shuttle Glides To Safe Landing - InformationWeek
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08:16 AM

Shuttle Glides To Safe Landing

Endeavour lands successfully to conclude 14-day mission to International Space Station.

Endeavour touched down at Florida's Kennedy Space Center late Sunday, capping a two-week mission that saw the shuttle travel a total distance of 5.7 million miles.

The mission, officially known as STS-130, and its conclusion were virtually flawless, NASA officials said. "The landing today went as smooth as you could hope for—by the numbers," said shuttle launch integration manager Mike Moses, in a statement.

"It was an outstanding mission—I can't be happier with the success we had and look forward to repeating that on our next mission," said Moses.

The shuttle crew was busy during its time in space, which began Feb 8.

Crewmembers conducted a live Q&A session with President Obama last week, during which Obama asked them what it would take to get humans to Mars.

They also performed an overnight spacewalk to open the new cupola observatory on the International Space Station. The astronauts exited the shuttle Endeavour late Tuesday to begin the 5-hour, 48 minute jaunt, and returned at 3:03 a.m. EST Wednesday.

Outside Endeavour, astronauts Robert Behnken and Nicholas Patrick removed insulation blankets from the cupola, a robotic control station that offers 360-degree, space-front views through seven windows.

Endeavour pilot Terry Virts then opened the windows one at a time while mission specialist Kathryn Hire congratulated the crew for "raising the curtain on a bay window to the world."

Also during the spacewalk, Behnken opened an ammonia loop that's designed to let coolant flow through the space station's new Tranquility module, which houses the cupola, and Patrick connected heater and data cables.

STS-130 saw the astronauts perform three spacewalks in total to conduct maintenance and repair operations on the ISS.

Endeavour carried a six-member crew, including pilot Virts, commander George Zamka, and mission specialists Behnken, Hire, Patrick, and Steve Robinson.

STS-130 is Endeavour's 24th flight and the 130th for the space shuttle program overall. NASA is cancelling the program at the end of this year, and there are only four remaining missions scheduled through the remainder of 2010.

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