NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour ends final mission

June 1st, 2011 - 8:21 pm ICT by BNO News  

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Space shuttle Endeavour and its six-astronaut crew on early Wednesday morning successfully made it back home and ended the shuttle’s last mission.

Endeavour landed at 2:34 a.m. EDT on Wednesday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ending a 16-day journey of more than 6.5 million miles.

In its 19-year career which began in 1992, Endeavour flew 25 missions, spent 299 days in space, orbited Earth 4,671 times and traveled 122,883,151 miles.

“We are very proud of Endeavour’s legacy, and this penultimate flight of the space shuttle program once again demonstrated the amazing skill and dedication of our astronauts and the entire workforce,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

“As we begin the transition from the shuttle program to the commercial transportation of our crews and cargo, our ability to tackle big challenges remains steadfast and will ensure that NASA reaches even more destinations farther in the solar system,” Bolden added.

During the shuttle’s last mission, STS-134, the Endeavour delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS), beginning a scientific voyage of discovery to our solar system and beyond from the International Space Station.

By measuring cosmic rays, AMS is designed to help researchers understand the origin of the universe and search for evidence of dark matter, strange matter and antimatter.

Mark Kelly commanded the flight and was joined by Pilot Greg H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and the European Space Agency’s Roberto Vittori.

Astronauts performed four spacewalks during the STS-134 mission to maintain station systems and install new components, as Endeavour also delivered the Express Logistics Carrier-3, a platform carrying spare parts that will sustain space station operations once the shuttles are retired from service.

Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8.56 a.m. local time on May 16 after several weeks of delay due to a technical problem. STS-134 was the 134th shuttle flight and the 36th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

Atlantis is now set to begin its 12-day STS-135 mission, which is targeted to begin July 8. It will be the shuttle’s 33rd mission and the 37th shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. It will also be the 135th and final mission of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.

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