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Shuttle comes home to Florida at last

A modified Boeing 747 jet brought the space shuttle Endeavour back to its home base in Florida on Friday, marking the final leg of a cross-country piggyback ride that was complicated by weather.
Image: USA Shuttle Endeavour Arrives at Kennedy Space Center
NASA's specially modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, carrying the Space Shuttle Endeavour, lands at Kennedy Space Center, shuttle landing facility, Cape Canaveral, Florida.Gary I Rothstein / EPA
/ Source: staff and news service reports

The space shuttle Endeavour returned home to NASA’s spaceport Friday, nearly two weeks after landing back on Earth.

Endeavour was forced to take a detour to California at mission’s end on Nov. 30 because of stormy weather at Kennedy Space Center, the main landing site.

More bad weather further stalled the trip home. The shuttle didn’t leave Edwards Air Force Base, where it ended up, until Wednesday.

Endeavour was anchored atop a modified jumbo jet for the cross-country trip. The shuttle-jet combination made an overnight stop at military bases in Texas and Louisiana on the way to Florida. The trip cost $1.8 million.

Endeavour and its crew of seven spent 16 days in orbit, most of that at the international space station. The astronauts renovated the inside of the space station and installed a recycling system for turning urine into drinking water. The flight also carried up a fresh crew member for the station, Sandra Magnus, and brought NASA astronaut Greg Chamitoff back down to Earth.

The next step is to "de-mate" Endeavour from NASA's modified 747 jet and bring it into its garage at Kennedy Space Center for servicing. Its next launch isn't scheduled until May at the earliest.

This report includes information from The Associated Press and

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