Endeavour astronauts prepare for Sunday landing

November 30th, 2008 - 8:41 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 30 (DPA) The seven astronauts on space shuttle Endeavour were to complete their mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with landing scheduled at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida Sunday.The shuttle undocked from the ISS at 9.47 a.m. (1447 GMT) Friday, and was expected to land at the Kennedy Space Centre at 1.19 p.m. (1819 GMT Sunday.

On Saturday, US space agency NASA was closely monitoring a cold front, which might bring rain, thunderstorms and cross-winds, and could affect Sunday’s entry and landing at the Kennedy Space Centre.

Two landing opportunities at the Florida spaceport were scheduled for 1.19 p.m. and 2.54 p.m., NASA said. In case bad weather forced mission managers to wave off landing in Florida, there are two other opportunities at the Edwards Air Force Base in California later in the day.

This will conclude Endeavour’s 16-day flight, 11 of which were spent docked to the ISS. The mission included four spacewalks to repair joints that allow the station’s solar panels to rotate toward the sun.

The shuttle took with it a slew of home improvements, including an exercise machine, a second toilet, two sleep stations and a water recycling pump to turn urine into drinking water. The shuttle crew also carried two food warmers and a larger refrigerator.

The upgrades to the space station’s living space should enable it to house six residents on longer-term assignments - an increase from the current three - after the retirement in 2010 of the US fleet of aging reusable orbiters.

NASA extended Endeavour’s mission by one day to deal with a problematic urine recycling system, a device considered key to the planned expansion of the ISS crew. Without the device, the crew is reliant on water shipped with other supplies from Earth.

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