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Boeing 747 drops Endeavour to her home port


The Space Shuttle Endeavour flies over the Clear Lake area and the Johnson Space Center after having spent the night at a stopover in Tarrant County, while mounted on a modified Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft. Endeavour landed in California on Nov 30 and was en route back to Florida. This photo, taken from the rear station of a NASA T-38 aircraft, shows the main part of the 1625-acre JSC site. The extremely clear weather allows viewing all the way to Houston's central business district. Harris County Domed Stadium and the Houston NFL franchises stadium are visible in the upper right quadrant of the photo. NASA

WASHINGTON (BNS): Space shuttle Endeavour and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft shimmered in the Florida sun Friday afternoon as the shuttle returned to its home spaceport at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Florida's Atlantic coast.

According to NASA, the modified 747 provided the muscle to lift and fly Endeavour from Edwards Air Force Base, California to Kennedy. The ferry flight began Wednesday and made overnight stops in Texas and Louisiana on its way to Florida.

The 747 touched down at 2:44 p.m. EST on the Shuttle Landing Facility’s runway 33. The 3-mile-long runway is the same one used by shuttles when they return from space. Endeavour will be taken to the gantry-like Mate-Demate Device to be removed from the top of the 747. Then Endeavour will be towed to the Orbiter Processing Facility where it will be readied for a future flight.

Endeavour, which came into existence in the late 1980s, replaced the Challenger which had met with an accident. It was made using some material from Discovery and Atlantis. The orbiter will be out of mission in 2010 after serving for 18 years, along with Discovery and Atlantis.

On its return from the International Space Station, it landed at Edwards Air Force Base as inclement weather did not make it feasible for completing the journey to the main landing site in Florida. Transporting the shuttle is not an easy task. The agencies quoted that the ride on the back of the jumbo jet would cost $1.8 million.

Launched on November 14, during its 16-day mission, Endeavour had repaired and upgraded the space station. It doubled the crew capacity of the space station to six and a rotating joint on a solar wing was also repaired. Endeavour also delivered a new bathroom, kitchenette, exercise machine, two sleeping quarters and a water cycling system.


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