The space shuttle Endeavour has landed safely in Florida following a 16 day mission to complete Japan’s International Space Station laboratory.
A large chunk of foam had fallen off the shuttle’s fuel tank during launch, raising fears of a repeat of the 2003 Colombia disaster, but the return into the atmosphere passed off without incident and Commander Mark Polansky produced a perfect landing at the Kennedy Space Center. The crew brought back Japanese flight engineer Koichi Wakata, who had spent four and a half months in orbit on the International Space Station. During their mission the crew installed a platform for telescopes and scientific experiments and they also delivered spare parts and replaced batteries to keep the solar powered station running during night time passes around earth. The Space shuttle programme is due to end next year and Nasa is planning seven missions in quick succession in order to stock up the International Space Station.