Only four shuttle missions left as Endeavour returns

Safe and sound. Image: EPA/ZUMApress.com

Completing an important 14-day mission to the International Space Station some 220 miles above the planet, the space shuttle Endeavour and her crew of six successfully returned to Earth late on Sunday evening.

“Welcome home,” radioed Mission Control in Houston to shuttle commander George Zamka as Endeavour touched down safely at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (2220 EST). “Congratulations to you and the crew on an outstanding mission.”

Mission STS-130 to the ISS saw the crew of Endeavour transporting and installing Tranquility – an observation and living module – to the station, thus providing residents with impressive panoramic views of both the Earth and the station’s exterior.

Some of the contributing components within the Tranquility module and observation deck include a toilet, a water-recycling system, an oxygen generator, an air-scrubbing facility and a selection of exercise equipment.

With STS-130 now complete, NASA has only four more remaining missions scheduled for its fleet of stalwart space shuttles before they are officially retired at the end of 2010.

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