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[UPDATE] Shuttle Endeavour Makes Final Landing

By: CBS News, Associated Press Email
By: CBS News, Associated Press Email

[UPDATE] CBS News -- 6:20am

Endeavor's days in space are over. After traveling 123 million miles and spending nearly 300 days in orbit, the shuttle touched down in the predawn hours for the last time.

Endeavor glided onto the tarmac in the middle of the night... marking an end to its 25th and final mission.

The shuttle's six crew members spent more than two weeks in orbit, conducting four space walks and installing a 2 billion dollar physics experiment on the International Space Station.

It's the youngest of NASA's shuttle fleet.. and the next to last to be retired.

As it touched down at the Kennedy Space Center... workers rolled Atlantis out for ITS last flight... expected in July.

Captain Mark Kelly says:
"The space shuttle's been the work horse of the U.S. Space Program for better than 30 years now, so I'll be sad to see it retired."

Before leaving space, Endeavor Commander Mark Kelly called the end of the shuttle program bittersweet.. but said he's excited for the future.

That includes seeing his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who's recovering from a gunshot wound to the head.

Giffords was here for the launch but didn't attend the landing. She put out a statement on Twitter saying she and her staff planned to stay up and watch it on TV.

Kelly says he has no regrets about leaving his wife during her rehabilitation.

"There are periods of time over the last 16 days that you miss your wife and kids, and i think that's true for all of us. But, in hindsight, it was absolutely the right decision."

The couple is expected to reunite tomorrow in Houston.

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Space shuttle Endeavour is back on Earth.

Endeavour and its crew of six landed at Kennedy Space Center early this morning. The touchdown closed out a 16-day mission that was the next-to-last for the shuttle program.

Endeavour's crew put the finishing touches on the International Space Station.

Commander Mark Kelly will have to wait another day before reuniting with his wife. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remained at her Houston rehab center. She was shot in the head in January.

The last shuttle to fly, Atlantis, was almost at the launch pad when Endeavour returned. Atlantis emerged from the hangar late Tuesday as thousands of space center workers and their families lined the route to the pad.

Atlantis launches in July.


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