NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour has ended its 19 year career after completing a perfect landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, touching down at KSC at 02:34 (and 51sec) EDT (06:34 GMT/ 07:34 BST).
“Your landing ends a vibrant legacy for this amazing vehicle that will long be remembered. Welcome home, Endeavour,” Mission Control congratulated the crew on landing. Commander Mark Kelly replied “It’s sad to see her land for the last time, but she really has a great legacy”.
Endeavour was the youngest orbiter in the fleet, constructed as a replacement for Challenger which was destroyed on launch in 1986.
Making its maiden flight on 7th May, 1992, today saw the completion of its 25th and final mission, having spent a total of 299 days in orbit and travelling more than 197.6 million kilometres (122.8 million miles) in the process.
And it was fitting that as one shuttle was landing another had been moved to the launchpad for the last ever mission, with Atlantis STS-135 due for launch on Friday 8th July.
The STS-134 astronauts from left, ESA’s Roberto Vittori, Gregory H. Johnson (Pilot), Mark Kelly (Commander), Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, and Andrew Feustel (mission specialists).
“We are very proud of Endeavour’s legacy, and this penultimate flight of the space shuttle programme once again demonstrated the amazing skill and dedication of our astronauts and the entire workforce,” Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement soon after landing.
Welcome home Endeavour!