Shuttle Endeavor lands at California Air Force Base

(CNN) – The space shuttle Endeavor landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on Sunday afternoon after NASA turned down two opportunities to land in Florida due to inclement weather.

Endeavor glides in for a landing Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The shuttle, piloted by Commander Christopher Ferguson, landed 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 landing facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida prompted NASA to call off attempts to land there. These were scheduled for 1:19 p.m. and 2:54 p.m. ET.

After noting that Monday’s weather forecast at Kennedy Space Center was equally unpromising, 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 for Sunday was sunny.

Air traffic controllers prefer landings at Kennedy Space Center for reasons of cost and schedule. NASA has estimated that it costs about $1.7 million to get a shuttle home from California to Kennedy Space Center. VideoWatch Endeavor’s Sunday Landing in California”

It also takes at least a week to get the shuttle ready for the voyage, but schedule isn’t an important factor for the Endeavor; It is not planned to fly again before May.

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

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

The recycling system was installed to convert the astronauts’ urine and sweat into drinking water.

Additional modules are scheduled to arrive on a shuttle flight in February. The goal of expanding the station’s capacity to six astronauts should be achieved by the summer.

The crew also worked on a joint that would help generate electricity for the space station. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen spent hours cleaning and lubricating the Solar Alpha pivot, which is designed to allow the solar panels on the left side of the station to rotate and track the sun.


The astronauts also removed and replaced several trundle bearing assemblies.

The mission went according to plan, despite a minor hiccup on the first spacewalk when a grease gun in Stefanyshyn-Piper’s tool bag leaked, coating everything inside with grease. 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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