Shuttle Endeavour lands at California air base


(CNN) Space shuttle Endeavor landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Sunday afternoon after NASA turned down two options for landing in Florida due to bad weather.

Endeavor glides in for a landing on Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The shuttle, piloted by Commander Christopher Ferguson, touched down at 1:25 p.m., ending a mission that lasted more than two weeks.

Wind, rain and reports of thunderstorms within 30 miles of the shuttle’s landing facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida prompted NASA to cancel landing attempts there. Those were scheduled for 1:19 PM and 2:54 PM ET.

After determining that Monday’s weather forecast at Kennedy Space Center was equally unpromising, flight controllers decided they would attempt to land the shuttle and its seven astronauts at Edwards AFB, about 100 miles from Los Angeles, California, where the forecast was based. Sunday was sunny.

Flight controllers favor landings at the Kennedy Space Center because of cost and scheduling. NASA has estimated that it costs about $1.7 million to get a shuttle from California to the Kennedy Space Center. Video Watch Endeavor’s Sunday Landing in California »

It also takes at least a week to get the shuttle ready for the trip, but schedule isn’t a major factor for the Endeavor; it is not scheduled to fly again until May.

Endeavor’s 15-day mission to the International Space Station began Nov. 14 and included four spacewalks.

During that time, the crew brought key pieces — including exercise equipment, more sleeping accommodations and a urine recycling system — for a project to double the station’s capacity from three in-house astronauts to six.

The recycling system has been installed to convert urine and sweat from the astronauts into drinking water.

Other modules are scheduled to arrive on a shuttle flight in February. The goal of expanding the station’s capacity to six astronauts is expected to be reached by the summer.

The crew also worked on a compound that will help generate power for the space station. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen spent hours cleaning and lubricating the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, which is designed to run the solar arrays on the left side of the station and track the sun.


The astronauts also removed and replaced several slide bearings.

The mission went according to plan, despite a minor hiccup during the first spacewalk when a grease gun leaked into Stefanyshyn-Piper’s tool bag, coating everything inside with a layer of lubricant. As she tried to clean it up, the bag — containing $100,000 worth of tools — floated away.

CNN’s Kate Tobin and Miles O’Brien contributed to this report.

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