Space shuttle Endeavour and its crew of seven astronauts ended their 16-day mission by landing safely at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If you missed seeing it live, watch the picture-perfect landing here. Good weather allowed the crew to come home on the first landing opportunity, after their orbital journey of more than 6.5 million miles. Endeavour touched down at 10:48 a.m. EDT, the 71st shuttle landing at KSC. It was the 23rd flight for Endeavour, the 127th space shuttle mission and 29th shuttle flight to the International Space Station.
During the flight, Endeavour delivered the final piece of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory and a new crew member to the International Space Station, Tim Kopra. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata (and his long duration underwear) returned home after four and a half months on board the ISS.
At this point only six (maybe seven) space shuttle flights are left on the manifest. The big question this week during the Augustine Commission hearings was if the shuttle missions would be extended in any way to eliminate the gap between the shuttles and whatever spacecraft comes next for human spaceflight. No answers yet, but stay tuned.
Next up is STS-128, targeted for an Aug. 25 launch. Space shuttle Discovery’s will go to the ISS to bring a new crew member and 33,000 pounds of equipment to the station. The equipment includes science and storage racks, a freezer to store research samples, a new sleeping compartment and the COLBERT treadmill.