Strong crosswinds and thunderstorms in Florida forced a change of plans for the space shuttle landing today. So this afternoon, Endeavour returned to Earth with what NASA called a “safe and successful” landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California’s Mojave desert.
Years ago, I was a TV news field producer assigned to cover the landing of a space shuttle at this base. I will never forget what an incredible sight it was to see the shuttle appear in the sky, float down, and land like a giant bird. Oh, a major difference with this fly bird is a parachute that deploys to slow the landing.
The Endeavour crew reportedly completed its mission of a 16-day “extreme home improvement” and service mission at the International Space Station. Among the projects, the much talked about water recovery system, which they hope will be able to recycle urine and perspiration into drinking water. The crew brought back some recycled samples to test, before putting the recovery system into operation. Good idea.
Next up for Endeavour is the flight back to Florida. Endeavour will get a piggyback ride on top of a Boeing 747 aircraft to Kennedy Space Center. The cost, $1.8 million.