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Shuttle Endeavour Crew Returns Home After Successful Mission


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The space shuttle Endeavour and its crew are home after completing a 13-day journey of more than 5.2 million miles in space. Endeavourís STS-118 mission successfully added another truss segment, a new gyroscope and external spare parts platform to the International Space Station.

Endeavourís Commander Scott Kelly, Pilot Charlie Hobaugh and mission specialists Tracy Caldwell, Rick Mastracchio, Barbara R. Morgan, Alvin Drew and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Dave Williams landed at NASAís Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday at 12:32 p.m. EDT.

Williams, Mastracchio and station flight engineer Clayton Anderson, with the help of their crewmates, made four spacewalks to accomplish the construction tasks. The spacewalkers also completed work in preparation for upcoming assembly missions, such as relocating an equipment cart and installing support equipment and communication upgrades.

During the mission, a new system that enables docked shuttles to draw electrical power from the station to extend visits to the outpost was activated successfully. Because the system worked, two additional days were added to Endeavourís mission.

STS-118 was the 119th space shuttle flight, the 22nd flight to the station, the 20th flight for Endeavour and the second of four missions planned for 2007.

Although managers addressed several issues with Endeavourís heat shield, including a small gouge in the protective tile on the orbiterís belly, inspections in orbit revealed no critical damage. Endeavourís thermal protection system was declared safe for re-entry on Monday. The orbiter will be processed immediately for its next flight, targeted for February 2008.

With Endeavour and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the next phase of International Space Station assembly. Preparations continue for space shuttle Discoveryís scheduled launch in October of the STS-120 mission to deliver the pressurized Node 2 connecting module to the station.


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