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Shuttle Endeavor lands at California Air Force Base


(CNN) – The space shuttle Endeavor landed safely Sunday afternoon at Edwards Air Force Base in California after NASA ruled out two landing options in Florida due to bad weather.

Endeavor is preparing for a Sunday landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The shuttle, piloted by Commander Christopher Ferguson, landed at 1:25 p.m., ending a mission that lasted more than two weeks.

Wind, rain and reports of thunderstorms within 30 miles of the shuttle landing facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida prompted NASA to call off attempts to land there. These were scheduled for 1:19 p.m. and 2:54 p.m. ET.

After determining Monday’s weather forecast at Kennedy Space Center was equally bleak, flight controllers decided they would try to land the shuttle and its seven astronauts at Edwards AFB, about 100 miles from Los Angeles. in California, where Sunday’s forecast was sunny.

Flight controllers prefer landings at Kennedy Space Center due to cost and timing. NASA has estimated that it costs about $1.7 million to bring a shuttle back to Kennedy Space Center from California. Shuttle Endeavor lands at California Air Force Base Watch Endeavor land on Sunday in California »

It also takes at least a week to get the shuttle ready for travel, but timing isn’t a major factor for the Endeavour; it is not expected to fly again until May.

Endeavor’s 15-day mission to the International Space Station began Nov. 14 and included four spacewalks.

Meanwhile, the crew brought in key items – including exercise equipment, more sleeping berths and a urine recycling system – for a project to double the station’s capacity from three in-house astronauts to six. .

The recycling system was installed to turn astronauts’ urine and sweat into drinking water.

Other modules are expected to arrive on a shuttle flight in February. The goal of expanding the station’s capacity to six astronauts should be achieved by the summer.

The crew also worked on a joint that helps generate power for the space station. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen spent hours cleaning and lubricating the Solar Alpha rotary joint, which is designed to allow the solar panels on the left side of the station to spin and follow the sun.

Shuttle Endeavor lands at California Air Force Base

The astronauts also removed and replaced several pull-out bearing assemblies.

The mission went according to plan, despite a minor disruption during the first spacewalk when a grease gun in Stefanyshyn-Piper’s tool bag leaked, coating the entire interior with a film of lubricant. . As she tried to clean it, the bag – with $100,000 worth of tools – flew away.

CNN’s Kate Tobin and Miles O’Brien contributed to this report.

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