NASA’S SPACE SHUTTLE Endeavour has landed safely at the end of its final ever trip to space – touching down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida as its sister spacecraft, Atlantis, was being rolled out for its final launch.
Endeavour and its crew of six, led by commander Mark Kelly, touched down at 7:35am Irish time to safely conclude a 16-day mission.
The primary role of the mission was to conclude NASA’s construction duties in the International Space Station, which has now also been concluded. The final shuttle mission, set for launch on July 8, will provide extra supplies to the base.
A NASA spokesman told the crew that the space station on which they worked would “sift through the cosmic darkness for years to come”.
Kelly, returning contact after landing, said the crew was sorry to see Endeavour being retired but said that the craft left “a great legacy”.
Endeavour’s 19-year career, which included 25 missions in total, saw the shuttle orbit Earth a total of 4,671 times, travelling almost 123 million miles. It will now the retired to the California Space Center in Los Angeles.
Following the retirement of the shuttle fleet, travel to the ISS will be available solely through Russian Soyuz craft.