After an 8,000,000 kilometre mission to the International Space Station, the Shuttle Endeavour touched down at Kennedy Space Centre exactly on time. The trip had been cut short by a day because of fears about Hurricane Dean, which had been wreaking havoc in the Caribbean.
The concern was not so much about the 5 kilometre landing strip in Florida, but more about the possibility that Mission Control at Houston in Texas would have to be evacuated if the hurricane had headed their way. It didn’t, and the seven crew members landed safely after installing a 2-tonne metal beam on the ISS, preparing it for further laboratory modules to be added.
The 100-tonne spaceship had suffered damage to two heat-resistant tiles on its underside, but NASA engineers were rightly confident that there would be no repeat of the Columbia disaster in 2003.