CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Endeavour and its six astronauts returned safely to Earth on Sunday, making a rare nighttime landing to end a mission that resulted in the virtual completion of the International Space Station.
The shuttle’s on-time arrival took some by surprise. All day, forecasters said rain and clouds probably would scuttle any touchdown attempts. But the rain stayed away and the sky cleared just in time.
Mission Control waited until the last possible minute before giving commander George Zamka the go-ahead to head home. “It’s great to be home. It was a great adventure,” Zamka said after the shuttle rolled to a stop.
During their mission – which spanned two weeks and 5.7 million miles – the astronauts delivered and installed a new space station room, Tranquility, and a big bay window with sweeping views of the Earth.