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Shuttle Endeavour lands safely

world Updated: Jul 31, 2009 22:41 IST
Reuters
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Space shuttle Endeavour and seven astronauts, including the first Japanese to live on the International Space Station, landed in Florida on Friday, capping a 16-day mission to complete Japan's orbital laboratory.

The shuttle touched down at the Kennedy Space Center at 10:48 a.m. EDT (1448 GMT), a few miles from where it blasted off on July 15 after a month of launch delays.

During an 11-day stay at the station, Endeavour's crew installed the final segment of Japan's $2.4 billion Kibo laboratory, a platform for telescopes and other science experiments.

They also delivered spare parts and replaced batteries to keep the solar-powered space station running during nighttime passes around Earth.

NASA is stocking the $100 billion station, a project of 16 nations, in preparation for the shuttle fleet's retirement next year after seven more missions.

Using a Japanese-built robot arm for the first time, astronauts placed three devices on the new platform: an X-ray telescope, a monitor to measure electromagnetic fields around the station and a communications antenna for a Japanese satellite network.

One of the Endeavour astronauts, rookie Timothy Kopra, remained behind on the space station, taking over the flight engineer's post previously held by Japan's Koichi Wakata, who returned home aboard the shuttle after 4 1/2 months in orbit.

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