July 31, 2009

Endeavour Makes Safe Return To Earth

Space Shuttle Endeavour made a safe return to Earth on Friday to complete the 16-day mission.

Endeavour's seven-member crew landed on schedule at 10:48 a.m. EDT at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mission saw the completion of Japan's Kibo science laboratory on the International Space Station.

The shuttle was docked with the ISS for 11 days as astronauts conducted five spacewalks to make various installations to the research lab.

The mission marked the first time the ISS housed 13 crewmembers as Endeavour's seven astronauts met the six crewmembers onboard.

Shuttle Commander Mark Polansky will be making a post-landing statement during a news conference, set to air on NASA TV at 1 p.m. The rest of the crew will hold another news conference at 3:15 p.m.

Endeavour left astronaut Timothy Kopra at the ISS, where will relieve Japanese astronaut Kochi Wakata as flight engineer. Wakata spent 4 1/2 months in the orbiting outpost.

Wakata spent the last month completing a seemingly odd test: he wore a single pair of underpants, called J-Ware, which was designed to stay odor free.

"I haven't talked about this underwear to my crewmembers," Wakata told the Associated Press.

"But I wore them for about a month, and my station crewmembers never complained for about a month, so I think the experiment went fine."

"We'll see the results after landing," Wakata said.

Endeavour astronauts will return to Houston's Ellington Field at around 5 p.m. Saturday.

STS-127 marks the 127th shuttle mission, and the 23rd flight for Shuttle Endeavour.


Image Caption: After a 16-day mission to the International Space Station, space shuttle Endeavour touches down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett


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