— The Space Shuttle Endeavour completed a 16-day mission to the international space station with a Nov. 30 landing at Edwards Air Force Base in
. Bad weather in the area of NASA’s
forced the agency to divert Endeavour to Edwards.
The shuttle will be ferried back to Kennedy on the back of a Boeing 747 jetliner. At press time, NASA expected Endeavour to begin its two-day journey back to its
home Dec. 7, weather-permitting.
NASA tries to avoid landing shuttles at Edwards because flying an orbiter back to
takes extra time and costs about $1.8 million. NASA said in a statement that it did not expect the Edwards landing to have an impact on the space shuttle’s 2009 launch schedule.
During their mission, which came during the space station’s 10th anniversary, Endeavour’s seven astronauts delivered and installed two new sleep stations, a new galley with a refrigerator and a water recovery system. The improvements will allow the space station to accommodate crews of six starting next May. Life support systems and other limitations restrict current crew size to three.
The Endeavour astronauts also conducted four spacewalks to clean and repair the station’s solar array joints.
NASA’s next space shuttle mission is targeted for a Feb. 12 launch, when Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew will deliver the fourth set of solar arrays and batteries to the station.