Aviation News

June 1, 2011

Space Shuttle Endeavour Returns to Earth for the Last Time

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By: Matt Molnar
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Space Shuttle Endeavour touched down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Wednesday morning, marking the end of the ship’s career and the close of NASA’s second-to-last shuttle mission.

Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134

NASA infrared cameras capture Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134 on the runway at Kennedy Space Center.

Shuttle pilot Greg Johnson guided Endeavour to a smooth stop on Runway 15 of the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility at 2:35:36 am ET.

Mission STS-134 was the 25th and final flight for Endeavour, which spent a total of 299 days in space, completed 4,671 orbits of the Earth and traveled 122,883,151 miles. In addition to delivering the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 2 and the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 3, Endeavour completed 248 orbits around Earth on a journey of 6,510,221 miles since its launch on May 16th.

“We are very proud of Endeavour’s legacy, and this penultimate flight of the space shuttle program once again demonstrated the amazing skill and dedication of our astronauts and the entire workforce,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “As we begin the transition from the shuttle program to the commercial transportation of our crews and cargo, our ability to tackle big challenges remains steadfast and will ensure that NASA reaches even more destinations farther in the solar system.”

In addition to the milestones reached by the retiring shuttle itself, Mission Specialist Michael Fincke set one of his own on this flight, completing his 382nd day in space and taking the lead as the U.S. astronaut having spent the most time in space.

Endeavour will eventually find a home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

About five miles from the landing strip, Space Shuttle Atlantis was being moved to the launch pad for its final launch as Endeavour touched down. STS-135, the last shuttle mission ever, is scheduled to launch on July 8th.