Space shuttle lands in California after 2-day delay
The space shuttle Atlantis landed under sunny skies at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Sunday, ending a 13-day mission to repair the aging Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA decided to use the backup landing site because thick cloud cover over the preferred landing site in central Florida refused to clear.
The space agency attempted landings in Florida on Friday and then again on Saturday, but opted to keep the shuttle and its seven astronauts in orbit before diverting the landing to California.
Astronauts spent seven days doing risky repair jobs outside Hubble. They carried out five spacewalks that totalled a record 37 hours.
Their work included installing new and powerful cameras as well as replacing failing batteries and busted gyroscopes on the 19-year-old telescope.
Atlantis flew to Hubble for its fifth and final repair. NASA hopes the repairs will keep Hubble running for another five to 10 years, giving astronomers further opportunity to use it to peer into deep space and work on unravelling some of the mysteries of the universe.
It will take about a week to get Atlantis back to the Kennedy Space Center and cost NASA close to $2 million US. The previous Edwards shuttle landing was in November.