Spaceflight Now





The Mission




Orbiter: Endeavour
Mission: STS-126
Payload: ISS ULF2
Launch: Nov. 14, 2008
Time: 7:55 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: Nov. 30 at 4:25 p.m. EST
Site: Edwards Air Force Base, California
Mission Status Center

STS-126 Video Coverage

High Definition Video

Launch Windows Chart

Countdown Timeline

Ascent Timeline

Master Flight Plan

Landing Info

Landing Tracks

STS-126 Mission Index

Our Shuttle Archive




The Crew




Meet the astronauts flying aboard Endeavour's STS-126 mission.

Meet the Astronauts

CDR: Chris Ferguson

PLT: Eric Boe

MS 1: Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper

MS 2: Stephen Bowen

MS 3: Don Pettit

MS 4: Shane Kimbrough

Up: Sandy Magnus

Down: Greg Chamitoff

Current Demographics







BY JUSTIN RAY

Follow space shuttle Endeavour's STS-126 mission to deliver equipment and supplies to the international space station. Reload for the latest updates.

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: CARRIER AIRCRAFT HEADS TO RUNWAY 04 PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE'S FERRYFLIGHT TAKES OFF FROM CALIFORNIA PLAY
VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS FROM CHASE PLANE PLAY

VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR LANDS AT EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE PLAY
VIDEO: LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA 1 PLAY
VIDEO: LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA 2 PLAY
VIDEO: LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA 3 PLAY
VIDEO: LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA 4 PLAY
VIDEO: LANDING REPLAY: CAMERA LOOKING OUT PILOT'S WINDOW PLAY
VIDEO: BEHIND THE SCENES IN MISSION CONTROL PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS SURVEY SHUTTLE ON RUNWAY PLAY
VIDEO: POST-FLIGHT COMMENTS FROM THE COMMANDER PLAY

VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD PLAY
VIDEO: RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH CAMERA REPLAYS
MORE: STS-126 VIDEO COVERAGE
MORE: STS-126 HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO
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PHOTO GALLERIES:
Edwards departure | Fort Worth arrival | Fort Worth departure
Kennedy Space Center arrival | More from KSC


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2008

Workers will spend the evening and overnight hours getting Endeavour unbolted from the 747. NASA officials say the shuttle should be rolled back to its processing hangar during the day on Saturday to begin post-flight deservicing and commence the launch campaign for the ship's next mission.

A gallery of pictures showing today's arrival at Kennedy Space Center can be seen here.

1955 GMT (2:55 p.m. EST)

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft rolled to a stop on the runway. A tow vehicle will be used to bring the 747/shuttle duo into the Mate-Demate Device structure for tomorrow's scheduled removal of Endeavour from atop the aircraft.

1945 GMT (2:45 p.m. EST)

Space shuttle Endeavour has returned to the Kennedy Space Center some 28 days after launching from the spaceport on its cargo-delivery mission to the international space station.

1944 GMT (2:44 p.m. EST)

Touchdown! The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft has made its tire-smoking landing at the Kennedy Space Center, completing the cross-country ferryflight from Edwards Air Force Base, California.

1943 GMT (2:43 p.m. EST)

The carrier aircraft is lined up for touchdown on Runway 33, the southeast-to-northwest approach of Kennedy Space Center's landing strip.

1937 GMT (2:37 p.m. EST)

The 747 just gave the crowd at the runway a treat, making an incredibly low thundering pass right up the runway. The aircraft is climbing out and will making a loop around for landing in a few minutes.

1930 GMT (2:30 p.m. EST)

The amazing sight of the shuttle mounted atop a Boeing 747 jumbojet is visible over Cocoa Beach and the surrounding area.

1928 GMT (2:28 p.m. EST)

The 747 will bank to the north for the flight up the beaches today. Weather is acceptable for the pilot to give the local residents a good view of the ferryflight.

1925 GMT (2:25 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is passing over Viera right now, en route for its low-altitude pass above the Space Coast beaches on this clear Florida afternoon.

1922 GMT (2:22 p.m. EST)

Reporters gathered out here at the runway have spotted the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft at good distance away. It will flying south of Kennedy Space Center along the coast in preparation for landing.

1917 GMT (2:17 p.m. EST)

The C-17 pathfinder aircraft, which has flown weather reconnaissance ahead of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, has just touched down at Kennedy Space Center.

1910 GMT (2:10 p.m. EST)

The C-17 is approaching Kennedy Space Center now.

1900 GMT (2:00 p.m. EST)

Endeavour skirted to the west of the Florida state capital as the 747 tracks on a southeasterly heading.

1845 GMT (1:45 p.m. EST)

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft's flight path has taken Endeavour near Chattahoochee along the Georgia-Florida border. The shuttle will be near Tallahassee a short time from now.

1826 GMT (1:26 p.m. EST)

After a brief flight across southern Alabama, the ferryflight has crossed the Florida state line in the panhandle.

1810 GMT (1:10 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is cruising nearly 15,000 feet in altitude over southeastern Mississippi, soon to enter Alabama and pass north of the Mobile area.

1740 GMT (12:40 p.m. EST)

After heading south out of Barksdale, the 747 already turned east on a path that will exit Louisiana from the central part of the state.

1710 GMT (12:10 p.m. EST)

The fourth and final leg of space shuttle Endeavour's cross-country voyage from its California landing site back to homebase in Florida has begun.

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft took off from the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana a few moments ago to start the two-and-a-half hour trip across the southeastern United States to Kennedy Space Center.

This non-stop leg will take the 747 and shuttle southeastward across the central Louisiana before turning due east and flying north of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The flight path will continue across the Gulf Coast, passing near Mobile and then into the Florida Panhandle. A bank to the right to head southeast into the center of the Sunshine State will bring the shuttle around Orlando before proceeding over to the Cape Canaveral area for landing at approximately 2:40 p.m. EST.

A buzz of the Space Coast beaches remains possible.

1707 GMT (12:07 p.m. EST)

The C-17 pathfinder is on its way, NASA says.

1645 GMT (11:45 a.m. EST)

Just as the forecasters had advertised, the overcast clouds have moved away and the sun is shining brightly on the Vehicle Assembly Building here at the Kennedy Space Center. It is a bit chilly but turning into a beautiful day along the Space Coast of Florida.

1542 GMT (10:42 a.m. EST)

The morning ferryflight meeting has concluded and the team members are preparing to board the C-17 pathfinder aircraft for takeoff from Barksdale Air Force Base at 11 a.m. local time (12 noon EST). The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is being refueled right now in preparation for its takeoff a few minutes after the pathfinder gets airborne to lead the way.

Although skies at Kennedy Space Center are overcast this morning, forecasters predict most of the clouds will clear out before the shuttle gets here. The outlook calls for just some scattered clouds at 2,000 feet. Crosswinds are no longer a concern.

Landing on Runway 33, the southeast to northwest approach, is scheduled for a little after 2:30 p.m. EST.

The timing will depend on whether a low-flyby of the Space Coast beaches occurs before landing. NASA says that will be a real-time call by the 747 pilot based on how the cloud conditions develop over the next couple of hours.

1520 GMT (10:20 a.m. EST)

Plans have been made to continue with the ferryflight today. NASA says arrival at the Kennedy Space Center is targeted for approximately 2:40 p.m. EST.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2008

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft has touched down at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. The 747 will be refueled during this second overnight stop of the cross-country trip. The ferryflight is expected to resume sometime on Friday, once the wall of weather blocking the route across the southeastern U.S. pushes out of the way.

Officials will receive a weather briefing at 10 a.m. EST Friday to assess conditions along the flight path, as well as crosswinds that could be a problem at the Kennedy Space Center runway.

NASA says it is possible that the shuttle could depart Barksdale around 12 noon EST, leading to arrival at KSC around 2 p.m. EST, if the weather cooperates. Times are approximate and could change.

1912 GMT (2:12 p.m. EST)

Endeavour has crossed the border into western Louisiana while beginning the descent to Barksdale for touchdown in a few minutes. Current weather at the base is sunny with a temperature of 49 degrees and northerly winds of 21 gusting to 26 mph.

1853 GMT (1:53 p.m. EST)

The 747 has climbed back to 15,000 feet as it soars over East Texas.

1828 GMT (1:28 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is heading northward now, traveling east of Houston en route to the next overnight stopping point in Shreveport, Louisiana.

1820 GMT (1:20 p.m. EST)

Escorted by a T-38, the shuttle and 747 combo is making low-flying laps around the space center area on a clear but windy day.

1804 GMT (1:04 p.m. EST)

The space shuttle Endeavour atop its 747 carrier is visible in the skies over Johnson Space Center, the home of the astronauts and Mission Control.

1755 GMT (12:55 p.m. EST)

The duo is passing well west of downtown Houston and about to circle south of the city for the buzz overhead Johnson Space Center. The C-17 pathfinder is making its low-altitude pass right now.

1734 GMT (12:34 p.m. EST)

The flight path is taking Endeavour east of Waco and soon to fly near Bryan and College Station, Texas.

1725 GMT (12:25 p.m. EST)

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is circling around the Fort Worth area, initially flying northbound out of the Naval Air Station and then making a U-turn to head southward on the route to Houston.

1707 GMT (12:07 p.m. EST)

The third leg of space shuttle Endeavour's ferryflight journey is now underway. The 747 carrier aircraft just departed the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, headed for a flyby of the Johnson Space Center to wow the crowds near Houston later this hour before going onward to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for another overnight stop.

Today's weather at Kennedy Space Center is dismal. Rain is falling from dark skies as a cold front pushes through the region. Endeavour will have to wait until the adverse conditions clear before flying home to the Florida spaceport on Friday.

1700 GMT (12:00 p.m. EST)

The 747 with Endeavour is taxiing.

1700 GMT (12:00 p.m. EST)

The pathfinder has just taken off.

1645 GMT (11:45 a.m. EST)

The C-17 pathfinder aircraft is taxiing out to the runway for departure a few minutes from now. That will be followed by the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft getting airborne shortly after 11 a.m. Central time.

But it won't be a direct flight over to Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. NASA has confirmed rumored plans to fly Endeavour over the Johnson Space Center in Houston for workers to get a good look at the spacecraft. A landing there is not planned, but the flyover of 747 is supposed to be visible from Ellington Field and the Sonny Carter Training Facility before passing over JSC.

1525 GMT (10:25 a.m. EST)

The weather briefing has concluded and officials have affirmed plans to resume the ferryflight at 11 a.m. Central time. One leg of the cross-country trip will be accomplished today, a move designed to get Endeavour further eastward and close enough to finish the ferryflight on Friday without needing a refueling stop en route to Kennedy Space Center.

The timing of Friday's arrival in Florida will depend on crosswinds at the three-mile runway at KSC. Forecasters currently believe the winds will shift into a more favorable direction in the afternoon and allow the 747 to land around 2 p.m. or perhaps later. Officials will continue to watch the weather and decide Friday morning when to head for Florida.

1445 GMT (9:45 a.m. EST)

For now, the takeoff time from Fort Worth remains targeted for 11 a.m. local time (12 noon EST) today.

1415 GMT (9:15 a.m. EST)

Today's game plan calls for Endeavour to depart Fort Worth and travel to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center will not allow the shuttle to arrive back in Florida until at least Friday.

Photos of Wednesday's arrival at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth can be seen here.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2008

Ferryflight officials will meet at 10 a.m. EST to receive a detailed weather briefing that will determine whether Endeavour can return to Kennedy Space Center sometime Thursday afternoon.

The current weather outlook gives little hope of acceptable conditions across the southeastern U.S. for the carrier aircraft to bring the shuttle back to the spaceport on Thursday. NASA is keeping its options open in case the forecast changes.

But even if the Florida weather is not favorable, the 747 is expected to continue pushing further east. Takeoff from Fort Worth is targeted for 12 noon EST (11 a.m. local time) to travel onward to another location along the route home.

2112 GMT (4:12 p.m. EST)

Touchdown. Space shuttle Endeavour's piggyback ride across the United States atop a modified Boeing 747 jumbojet has reached Fort Worth for refueling and an overnight layover at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base.

This second leg of the coast-to-coast voyage stretched about 525 miles, as the shuttle was hauled from El Paso to the Fort Worth area of Texas. The trip took about an hour and 45 minutes.

The unique duo could resume the ferryflight Thursday morning, weather permitting, and head for the shuttle homeport at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

2106 GMT (4:06 p.m. EST)

Spectators at the airfield have reported a tally ho on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

2100 GMT (4:00 p.m. EST)

As crowds gather the Naval Air Station in Fort Worth to witness the ferryflight's landing, the C-17 pathfinder aircraft flying ahead of the shuttle just arrived. The 747 with Endeavour has begun its descent for touchdown a short time from now.

2045 GMT (3:45 p.m. EST)

The 747-shuttle duo are flying just south of Abilene at a cruising altitude of 15,000 feet, continuing en route to Fort Worth.

2025 GMT (3:25 p.m. EST)

The flight path just passed north of Odessa and then over Midland, Texas.

1937 GMT (2:37 p.m. EST)

The Boeing 747 with space shuttle Endeavour perched on top just departed El Paso for a two-hour flight across the Lone Star State to Fort Worth.

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft being used today is known as NASA 911. It was purchased from Japan Airlines in 1989 and came online in November 1990. A second carrier -- NASA 905 -- was purchased from American Airlines in 1974 and modified to carry the shuttle orbiters beginning in the program's early years.

The aircraft have a wingspan of 195 feet, a length of 231 feet, a height to the top of the cockpit area of 32 feet and a maximum gross taxi weight of 713,000 pounds. They are powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7J gas turbine engines, each producing 50,000 pounds of thrust. Minimum crew for a flight is two pilots and one flight engineer. Minimum for a flight with the shuttle aboard is two pilots and two flight engineers.

1900 GMT (2:00 p.m. EST)

A photo showing today's arrival in El Paso can be seen here.

1750 GMT (12:50 p.m. EST)

The next step on shuttle Endeavour's journey home will take the shuttle this afternoon to Fort Worth, Texas. An overnight stop is planned at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base there.

According to the base, it will be the first time since March 26, 1997 that NAS JRB-Fort Worth has been used as a ferryflight stop. The installation has a 12,000-foot runway.

1724 GMT (12:24 p.m. EST)

After a 700-mile trek across the southwestern United States, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and Endeavour have arrived at the Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas to refuel the 747 and have lunch. A second leg of the cross-country ferryflight is expected to occur later today.

1705 GMT (12:05 p.m. EST)

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, currently southwest of Las Cruces, New Mexico, has begun its descent into the Biggs Army Airfield.

1700 GMT (12:00 p.m. EST)

Spectacular photos of this morning's takeoff from Edwards Air Force Base is posted here.

1635 GMT (11:35 a.m. EST)

The latest weather report from El Paso shows mostly sunny skies, a light wind and a temperature of 33 degrees. Endeavour should be arriving there in about 45 minutes.

1620 GMT (11:20 a.m. EST)

Cruising at 15,000 feet over south-central Arizona, the shuttle is passing below Phoenix and above the Tuscon area on its trip to the Biggs Army Airfield in Texas.

1550 GMT (10:50 a.m. EST)

The first leg of Endeavour's ferryflight will last about two hours as the shuttle is carried over Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and into the western edge of Texas for a refueling stop in El Paso.

1452 GMT (9:52 a.m. EST)

WHEELS UP! The 747-shuttle duo have departed from Edwards Air Force Base in California to start the cross-country trek back to Endeavour's homeport at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Takeoff from Runway 04 toward the northeast occurred at 7:08 a.m. local time (10:08 a.m. EST).

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and Endeavour are heading for the Biggs Army Airfield at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The 747 will be refueled there before possibly continuing onward to another military base for an overnight stop, although that specific location has not yet been confirmed by NASA. The journey into Kennedy Space Center on Thursday or Friday will depend on the stormy weather system stretching across the southeastern U.S.

The shuttle spent nearly 10 days in the Mojave Desert following its landing there to conclude the STS-126 mission to the space station. Bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center on November 30 prompted Mission Control to divert Endeavour's landing to the backup site at Edwards Air Force Base.

Technicians safed onboard systems and readied the shuttle for its cross-country trip. After an aerodynamic tailcone was installed, the 100-ton spaceplane was lifted on top of the aircraft and bolted in place.

Once back home, Endeavour will be prepared for another construction flight to the space station next summer.

1452 GMT (9:52 a.m. EST)

The modified 747 carrying the space shuttle is taxiing into position for takeoff from sunny Edwards Air Force Base in California to begin the eastward coast-to-coast journey that will return Endeavour home to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida over the next few days.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2008

Space shuttle Endeavour has been mounted atop the 747 aircraft for Wednesday morning's planned takeoff from Edwards Air Force Base in California to begin the cross-country trek back to Florida.

NASA says the current plans, based on today's weather briefing, will see the ferryflight begin around 7 a.m. local time and head for an mid-way stop to refuel. An overnight stop is anticipated, with arrival at Kennedy Space Center not expected until sometime on Thursday or Friday, depending on weather conditions en route.

Watch this page for live updates as the trip gets underway!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2008

Following a mid-day weather briefing, managers have delayed the start of space shuttle Endeavour's ferryflight until at least Wednesday. Arrival back in Florida is not expected before Thursday or Friday.

High winds blowing across the Mojave Desert have postponed the attachment of Endeavour atop NASA's specially-modified 747 carrier aircraft today. Winds as strong as 25 to 35 knots caused workers to suspend the efforts until after 7 p.m. local time tonight when the conditions are forecast to improve. The wind limit for mating operation is 20 knots.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2008

Forecast weather conditions along the ferryflight path in the U.S. Southwest has prompted NASA to delay Endeavour's departure from Edwards Air Force Base until Tuesday. Another weather briefing will be held on Monday morning to assess the forecast and flight path.

1920 GMT (2:20 p.m. EST)

A readiness review being held today will plot out the strategy and flight plans to get space shuttle Endeavour back home to the Kennedy Space Center, following last weekend's landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Overnight, workers positioned the shuttle's body flap and engine nozzles, allowing the aerodynamic tailcone to be installed this morning. Endeavour's hydraulic systems are scheduled to be powered up later today for retraction of the landing gear.

Hoisting the shuttle atop the 747 carrier jet is expected to occur this evening and into early Monday, based on the latest timelines, NASA said this morning.

The ferryflight preparations are running a bit further behind schedule, and managers aren't entirely sure whether the cross-country trek can begin at sunrise Monday as hoped. Officials say the schedule is "tight."

Today's readiness review will determine if the 6:15 a.m. local time takeoff from Runway 22 will remain the target, or if the departure should be postponed until later Monday or even Tuesday.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2008
1845 GMT (1:45 p.m. EST)


Space shuttle Endeavour's cross-country piggyback ride atop a modified Boeing 747 jet from Edwards Air Force Base in California to the spacecraft's homeport at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is now scheduled to begin around sunrise on Monday.

Takeoff is targeted for 6:30 a.m. local time, NASA officials say. The exact flight path and timeline remains under review and could change based on weather conditions along the way. Arrival at the Cape isn't expected until at least sometime Tuesday.

Managers had hoped to get the ferryflight underway on Sunday. However, trouble installing the aerodynamic tailcone on Endeavour has pushed back activities by one day.

"The issue involved the size of three of the eight pins used to fasten the tailcone to the orbiter. Although engineering and the machine shop staff have been able to successfully resolve the problem, it has put the processing behind schedule," a NASA statement read.

"As a result, work planned for Friday was postponed to Saturday, including powering up of the hydraulics to retract the landing gear, positioning of the body flap and engine nozzles and installation of the tailcone itself, which is now expected to occur late Saturday night," the statement said.

Under the revised schedule, Endeavour will be hoisted atop its carrier aircraft on Sunday. NASA hopes all of the ferryflight preps will be completed by early Monday.

A readiness review to make final decisions about the departure time and the flight plan is slated for mid-day Sunday.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2008

"Let me just saw thank you to all the folks who came out to support the landing at Edwards Air Force Base today. It's kind of a unique opportunity to come out and land at this temporary and narrow runway, but I think it all worked out in the end very well," commander Chris Ferguson said from the runway.

"Let me be the first to say that the crew members who are not with us are doing just fine. Greg Chamitoff, of course, is a six-month space flier and it takes just a little bit longer for them to reacclimate to the gravity and readapt to being on Earth again. Don Pettit and Heide Piper are doing just fine as well. They're in keeping a good eye on Greg.

"So we just thought we'd take advantage of this beautiful weather to come out here and enjoy this gorgeous orbiter, which seems to have fared entry pretty well.

"And let me thank all the folks back in Houston and in the NASA centers throughout (the country), who supported what I believe is an extremely successful mission. It was very ambitious. It was over 15 days long. It was a home improvement mission. We improved the space station inside and out with a new water recycling system and then the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, which Heide and her team so deftly managed to repair. From what I've heard, it's performing very well.

"So again, thank you to all throughout the Edwards and NASA communities who supported us today. It's great to be back on the ground and it's great to be in California. Thank you very much."

2315 GMT (6:15 p.m. EST)

Four of the astronauts, commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Stephen Bowen and Shane Kimbrough have exited the Crew Transport Vehicle to chat with the officials and VIPs waiting on the runway and to get an upclose look at their spaceship.

The astronauts will be heading for crew quarters to have some dinner and spend the night. They will be flying back to Houston tomorrow afternoon.

2310 GMT (6:10 p.m. EST)

The Crew Transport Vehicle carrying the astronauts is pulling back from the shuttle. Some of the crew is expected to take the traditional walkaround of Endeavour to inspect the ship on the runway.

2300 GMT (6:00 p.m. EST)

A gallery of spectacular landing photos is posted here.

2200 GMT (5:00 p.m. EST)

The Crew Transport Vehicle -- a modified airport "People Mover" -- is pulled up to the side hatch for the astronauts to enter. The CTV features beds and comfortable seats for the astronauts to receive medical checks after returning to Earth's gravity from the weightless environment of space.

2156 GMT (4:56 p.m. EST)

The space shuttle Endeavour dropped out of a cloudless blue sky and settled to a tire-smoking touchdown at California's Edwards Air Force Base to wrap up a marathon space station assembly and maintenance mission.

Read our full story.

2147 GMT (4:47 p.m. EST)

"Congratulations on the first orbiter landing on the Edwards temp runway," CAPCOM Alan Poindexter just told commander Chris Ferguson.

"Copy, thanks for that, we have about 800 feet of it left, so we didn't quite use all of it."

The temporary runway is 12,000 feet long and 200 feet wide, which is shorter and narrower than the landing strips normally used by the shuttle.

2143 GMT (4:43 p.m. EST)

Here are the landing times in Eastern Standard Time and Mission Elapsed Time:

Main Gear Touchdown
4:25:06 p.m. EST
MET: 15 days, 20 hours, 29 minutes, 37 seconds

Nose Gear Touchdown
4:25:21 p.m. EST
MET: 15 days, 20 hours, 29 minutes, 52 seconds

Wheels Stop
4:26:03 p.m. EST
MET: 15 days, 20 hours, 30 minutes, 34 seconds

2142 GMT (4:42 p.m. EST)

The main engine nozzles have been moved. And now the hydraulics are no longer required, so Endeavour's three Auxiliary Power Units are being shut down.

2139 GMT (4:39 p.m. EST)

The main engine nozzles are been repositioned, or gimbaled, to the "rain drain" orientation.

2137 GMT (4:37 p.m. EST)

On the runway, technicians are using instruments to "sniff" the shuttle's exterior to check for any hazardous vapors.

2134 GMT (4:34 p.m. EST)

"Wheels stop, Houston," commander Chris Ferguson radioed as he brought Endeavour to a halt.

"Copy, wheels stop Endeavour. Welcome back. That was a great way to finish a fantastic flight, Fergie," CAPCOM Alan Poindexter replied from Mission Control.

"And we're happy to be here in California."

And Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke aboard the space station chimed in: "That was a picture-perfect landing at Edwards Air Force Base. The crew of Expedition 18 would like to extend congratulations to the crew of Endeavour and the entire team that made that incredible home makeover mission possible."

2132 GMT (4:32 p.m. EST)

The external tank umbilical doors on the shuttle's belly are being opened. And the body flap is being set.

2128 GMT (4:28 p.m. EST)

The crew is beginning the post-landing procedures on Endeavour.

2126 GMT (4:26 p.m. EST)

WHEELS STOP. The voyage of space shuttle Endeavour that remodeled the interior of the international space station and prepared the outpost for doubling the size of its resident crews has safely and successfully concluded. The 16-day marathon also featured four spacewalks that cleaned and lubricated the space station's damaged starboard-side solar array paddle wheel joint and performed preventive maintenance on the port-side joint.

2125 GMT (4:25 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is rolling down the 12,000-foot-long temporary runway constructed at Edwards Air Force Base to conclude its space journey spanning 250 orbits and 6.6 million miles.

2125 GMT (4:25 p.m. EST)

TOUCHDOWN! Main gear touchdown. Pilot Eric Boe is unfurling the drag chute as commander Chris Ferguson brings the nose gear to the surface of Runway 04L.

2125 GMT (4:25 p.m. EST)

Pilot Eric Boe is deploying the landing gear. Standing by for touchdown.

2124 GMT (4:24 p.m. EST)

Now 2,000 feet.

2124 GMT (4:24 p.m. EST)

Wings are level on final approach now. The shuttle descending at a rate seven times steeper than that of a commercial airliner.

2123 GMT (4:23 p.m. EST)

Less than two minutes to touchdown as Endeavour continues in the sweeping turn.

2123 GMT (4:23 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is traveling 20,000 feet in altitude at 470 mph.

2122 GMT (4:22 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is 6 miles in altitude.

2121 GMT (4:21 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is in the Heading Alignment Cylinder, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 04L. Commander Chris Ferguson is piloting Endeavour through a 340-degree left-overhead turn over the Mojave Desert to loop around for landing on the southwest to northeast runway.

2121 GMT (4:21 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is 25 miles from the landing site, traveling just under 500 mph.

2120 GMT (4:20 p.m. EST)

The twin sonic booms have rumbled across the Edwards Air Force Base area, announcing the shuttle's arrival.

2119 GMT (4:19 p.m. EST)

The crew has been given a "go" for normal deployment of the drag chute after main gear touchdown.

2119 GMT (4:19 p.m. EST)

Mach 2, altitude 13 miles, 47 miles from the runway.

2118 GMT (4:18 p.m. EST)

Seven minutes to touchdown. Air data probes are being deployed from the shuttle's nose to feed air speed, altitude and angle of attack information to the computers for navigation.

2118 GMT (4:18 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is 18 miles altitude, traveling at 2,500 mph.

2117 GMT (4:17 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is 20 miles in altitude now.

2117 GMT (4:17 p.m. EST)

Space shuttle Endeavour is making its California landfall high above the beaches of Malibu. In the next couple of minutes, the spacecraft will pass south of Santa Clarita and then descend toward the Antelope Valley where the shuttle will pass by Lancaster and take aim at the Edwards Air Force Base complex.

The shuttle will cross above the runway when performing the incredibly wide and sweeping 340-degree left-overhead U-turn to align with Runway 04L.

2116 GMT (4:16 p.m. EST)

Tally ho on Endeavour. Powerful tracking cameras at the landing site have spotted the descending shuttle.

2116 GMT (4:16 p.m. EST)

Altitude now 120,000 feet, 200 miles from the runway, traveling at 4,000 mph.

2115 GMT (4:15 p.m. EST)

Ten minutes from landing. Endeavour is approaching the coast of Southern California.

2114 GMT (4:14 p.m. EST)

Now 27 miles in altitude.

2114 GMT (4:14 p.m. EST)

Now 11 minutes from touchdown. Mission Control computes Endeavour will land 2,000 feet down the runway at 205 knots.

2112 GMT (4:12 p.m. EST)

Endeavour's speed has slowed to Mach 11 as the shuttle begins its third of four banks during descent.

2110 GMT (4:10 p.m. EST)

Now 15 minutes from landing. The shuttle is 35 miles up and 800 miles from the runway.

2108 GMT (4:08 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is now 39 miles altitude, traveling at 12,750 mph and 1,200 miles from the landing site.

2107 GMT (4:07 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is performing the first roll-reversal.

2106 GMT (4:06 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is 42 miles up, some 1,650 miles from Edwards Air Force Base, traveling at Mach 20.

2105 GMT (4:05 p.m. EST)

Twenty minutes to go.

2103 GMT (4:03 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is 2,300 miles from the runway, traveling with a speed of 15,700 mph.

2102 GMT (4:02 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is crossing the equator. Endeavour's planned track to landing is illustrated here.

2100 GMT (4:00 p.m. EST)

Now 25 minutes from touchdown. Endeavour is beginning to experience peak heating.

2059 GMT (3:59 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is beginning the first of four banks to scrub off speed as it plunges into the atmosphere. These turns basically remove the energy Endeavour built up during launch.

2058 GMT (3:58 p.m. EST)

The decision has made to keep the runway selection the same -- Runway 04L that stretches from the southwest to northeast. Weather balloon data was being assessed for a possible late change to the other end of the runway.

The landing strip being used today is a temporary one. Edwards' main concrete runway used by many previous shuttle landings recently underwent renovations and a temporary runway was constructed nearby for use in the meantime. Although refurbishment work is now complete, the navigation aids and equipment needed by the astronauts have not yet been relocated from the temporary strip back to the permanent one.

So Endeavour will be making the first shuttle landing on the 12,000-foot-long and 200-foot-wide temporary runway made asphalt and concrete. It also features 1,000-foot over/under runs on either end.

By comparison, the permanent Runway 04/22 is 15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide.

2056 GMT (3:56 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is streaking 59 miles over the South Pacific, now passing to the west of French Polynesia.

2053 GMT (3:53 p.m. EST)

ENTRY INTERFACE. Endeavour's thermal protection system is feeling heat beginning to build as the orbiter enters the top fringes of the atmosphere -- a period known as entry interface.

The shuttle is flying at Mach 25 with its nose elevated 40 degrees, wings level, at an altitude of 400,000 feet over the southern Pacific Ocean.

Touchdown remains set for 4:25 p.m. EST in the Mojave Desert.

2045 GMT (3:45 p.m. EST)

Now 40 minutes to touchdown. Onboard guidance has maneuvered Endeavour from its heads-down, tail-forward position needed for the deorbit burn to the reentry configuration of heads-up and nose-forward. The nose will be pitched upward 40 degrees. In this new position, the black tiles on the shuttle's belly and the reinforced carbon-carbon panels on the wing leading edges and nose cap will shield the spacecraft during the fiery plunge through the Earth's atmosphere with temperatures reaching well over 2,000 degrees F. Endeavour will begin interacting with the upper fringes of the atmosphere above the South Pacific at 3:53 p.m. EST.

2041 GMT (3:41 p.m. EST)

Pilot Eric Boe is working to get all three Auxiliary Power Units are up and running now.

2039 GMT (3:39 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is passing south of Australia, soon to cross directly over New Zealand. The shuttle is traveling 16,500 mph at an altitude of 176 miles.

2035 GMT (3:35 p.m. EST)

Touchdown is 50 minutes away. This will be the 52nd shuttle landing at Edwards Air Force Base, the 46th to occur in daylight and the first since June 22, 2007 when Atlantis landed there to conclude STS-117.

2030 GMT (3:30 p.m. EST)

Excess propellant reserves in the maneuvering thrusters on the shuttle's nose will be dumped overboard. The dump time will be 29 seconds.

2025 GMT (3:25 p.m. EST)

Sixty minutes to touchdown. Endeavour is maneuvering to the orientation for entry.

2022 GMT (3:22 p.m. EST)

DEORBIT BURN COMPLETE. Endeavour has successfully completed the deorbit burn for the journey back from space. Landing is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. EST at Edwards Air Force Base in California to complete this 16-day mission to the international space station.

2019 GMT (3:19 p.m. EST)

DEORBIT BURN IGNITION. Flying upside down and backwards 220 miles above the Indian Ocean, Endeavour has begun the deorbit burn. The firing of the twin Orbital Maneuvering System engines on the tail of the shuttle will last two minutes and 54 seconds, slowing the craft by about 200 mph to slip from orbit. The retro-burn will send Endeavour to Edwards Air Force Base in California for a touchdown at 4:25 p.m. EST.

2018 GMT (3:18 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is in the proper orientation and systems are configured for the deorbit burn.

2014 GMT (3:14 p.m. EST)

Pilot Eric Boe is activating one of three Auxiliary Power Units in advance of the burn, now five minutes away. The other two APUs will be started later in the descent to provide pressure needed to power shuttle's hydraulic systems that move the wing flaps, rudder/speed brake, drop the landing gear and steer the nose wheel. NASA ensures that at least one APU is working before committing to the deorbit burn since the shuttle needs only a single unit to make a safe landing.

2010 GMT (3:10 p.m. EST)

The astronauts have finished their deorbit burn preparation checklist. The burn is coming up in about nine minutes.

2005 GMT (3:05 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is maneuvering to the deorbit burn attitude.

1957 GMT (2:57 p.m. EST)

GO FOR THE DEORBIT BURN! Entry flight director Bryan Lunney in Mission Control just gave approval for Endeavour to perform the deorbit burn at 3:19:29 p.m. EST that will commit the shuttle for the trip back to Earth.

Touchdown at Edwards Air Force Base in California is set for 4:25 p.m. EST.

1954 GMT (2:54 p.m. EST)

Now 25 minutes until the deorbit burn time. Standing by for the decisive "go" or "no go" call from Mission Control.

1953 GMT (2:53 p.m. EST)

Pilot Eric Boe has put the Auxiliary Power Units cockpit switches in the ready-to-start configuration.

1943 GMT (2:43 p.m. EST)

A steering check of Endeavour's orbital maneuvering system engines is being conducted. The twin OMS engines on the tail of the shuttle will fire for nearly three minutes to the slow the vehicle from orbit. Ignition of the deorbit burn is scheduled for 3:19 p.m. EST.

1932 GMT (2:32 p.m. EST)

The convoy of landing support vehicles is moving to runway staging point for receiving Endeavour just under two hours from now.

1912 GMT (2:12 p.m. EST)

Mission Control is assessing the wind conditions at the landing strip to determine which ends of the runway to target. The current plan involves a 340-degree left-overhead to align with Runway 04L. However, there is ongoing discussion about switching to a 200-degree right-overhead turn to use Runway 22R.

1900 GMT (2:00 p.m. EST)

The crew is completing its "fluid loading" protocol. That involves drinking large amounts of liquids and salt to assist in the readaptation to Earth's gravity.

On the menu, commander Chris Ferguson and mission specialists Don Pettit and Greg Chamitoff will have water and salt tablets, pilot Eric Boe will have tropical punch and salt, mission specialist Shane Kimbrough will have a grape drink with salt tablets, Stephen Bowen will have a lemon-lime drink and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper will have chicken consomme and a lemon-lime drink.

1840 GMT (1:40 p.m. EST)

Here at the Kennedy Space Center, the skies are gloomy, winds are strong, there's rain in the area and even a tornado watch posted.

And so the astronauts are preparing to land in California where the weather is beautiful today. They have completed the pre-entry verification that the scores of switches in the cockpit are correctly set. Soon, the crew will begin donning the bright orange launch and landing pressure spacesuits.

1830 GMT (1:30 p.m. EST)

The latest data from Mission Control shows the upcoming deorbit burn ignition time will be 3:19:29 p.m. EST. The twin braking rockets will fire for two minutes and 54 seconds.

1730 GMT (12:30 p.m. EST)

Maps show the track that Endeavour will follow to Edwards are posted here here.

1725 GMT (12:25 p.m. EST)

Our story on the landing site change is posted here.

1700 GMT (12:00 p.m. EST)

CALIFORNIA BOUND. With the forecasts predicting unfavorable weather at Florida's Kennedy Space Center proving true today and little hope of better conditions tomorrow, NASA has decided to divert space shuttle Endeavour's landing to the backup site at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

The deorbit burn is scheduled for 3:19 p.m. EST (12:19 p.m. local; 2019 GMT), leading to touchdown at 4:25 p.m. EST (1:25 p.m. local; 2125 GMT) to conclude the 16-day flight.

Ideal weather conditions await the shuttle in California's Mojave Desert today. At landing time, meteorologists are expecting just a few clouds at 30,000 feet, good visibility and northeasterly winds of 6 peaking to 11 knots down the runway.

As for viewing the landing in person, the following information was issued by NASA:

Although the main portion of Edwards Air Force Base will NOT be open to the public for viewing of a potential space shuttle landing, base officials advised Saturday afternoon that the remote east lakebed viewing area off Mercury Boulevard will be open for public viewing. The Mercury Boulevard viewing site is accessible from 120th and 140th Streets East from the south side of the base east of Lancaster, and from Highway 58 off Twenty Mule Team Road west of Boron. Visitors should allow for an additional 45 minutes driving time from the south gate security station on 120th Street East and 30 minutes additional driving time from the Highway 58 exit. Air Force security officers will be on hand to direct traffic beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday.

1640 GMT (11:40 a.m. EST)

To recap, there will no landing at Kennedy Space Center today. The weather is not acceptable for Endeavour's homecoming at the Florida spaceport this afternoon. But whether there will be a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California later this afternoon or not is a question not yet answered by entry flight director Bryan Lunney. He continues to weigh the options of either sending Endeavour to the backup site today or keeping the shuttle in space until tomorrow in hopes the Florida conditions improve 24 hours from now.

The weather forecast predicts fine conditions at Edwards today and tomorrow. The outlook for KSC tomorrow calls for continuing strong crosswinds at the runway.

1627 GMT (11:27 a.m. EST)

Endeavour's 60-foot-long payload bay doors are now closed and locked in preparation for a possible landing in California. However, everyone is awaiting a final decision on the landing plan.

The port door was closed first and then starboard door swung shut. The forward- and aft-bulkhead latches were locked, followed by the centerline latches between the two doors.

Mission Control has given the crew a "go" to transition the onboard computers from the OPS-2 software used during the shuttle's stay in space to OPS-3, which is the software package that governs entry and landing.

1608 GMT (11:08 a.m. EST)

Although Mission Control has not yet committed to landing at Edwards Air Force Base today, the crew is pressing ahead with re-entry preparations for now.

The astronauts have configured the orbiter for closing the payload bay doors. Cooling has switched from the radiators in the doors to the flash evaporator system that uses water stored on the shuttle to keep onboard systems from overheating.

And with good operation of the flash evaporator system has been seen in telemetry from the shuttle, the "go" has been radioed to the crew for payload bay door closing.

1553 GMT (10:53 a.m. EST)

WAVE OFF 2. Mission Control just scrapped today's second landing opportunity into Kennedy Space Center. However, no decision has been made about diverting to Edwards Air Force Base, California. Entry flight director Bryan Lunney wants to look at tomorrow's weather forecast for KSC before making the final call.

The remaining landing opportunities today and those available tomorrow:


ORBIT..SITE.....DEORBIT....LANDING

Sunday, 11/30/08

250....EDW......03:20 PM...04:25 PM
251....EDW......04:57 PM...06:00 PM

Monday, 12/01/08

263...KSC......11:05 AM...12:08 PM
264...KSC......12:40 PM...01:43 PM
265...EDW......02:11 PM...03:14 PM
266...EDW......03:46 PM...04:49 PM
267...EDW......05:23 PM...06:25 PM

1445 GMT (9:45 a.m. EST)

Our story on the landing delay is posted here.

1443 GMT (9:43 a.m. EST)

The flight dynamics officer has revised the deorbit burn time for the next KSC opportunity. The new ignition time would be exactly 1:49:39 p.m. EST. The landing would still be 2:54 p.m. EST.

1417 GMT (9:17 a.m. EST)

WAVE OFF. Mission Control just told the Endeavour crew to pause their preparations for re-entry and landing due to the dismal weather forecast for today's first opportunity at Kennedy Space Center.

The astronauts won't close the payload bay doors around 9:30 a.m. EST as had been scheduled. Instead, commander Chris Ferguson and his crew will remain in space an additional 90-minute revolution of the planet in hopes the Florida weather somehow improves.

The day's second and final KSC landing opportunity would begin with a deorbit burn at 1:50 p.m., leading to a touchdown on the spaceport's three-mile-long concrete landing strip at 2:54 p.m. EST.

If the weather remains "no go" in Florida, flight director Bryan Lunney could divert Endeavour to the alternate site at Edwards Air Force Base in California. A landing in the Mojave Desert would start with a deorbit burn at 3:20 p.m. and culminate with touchdown at 4:25 p.m. EST on a 12,000-foot-long temporary runway.

The main concrete runway used by many previous shuttle landings recently underwent renovations. Although that work is now complete, the navigation aids and equipment needed by the astronauts have not yet been relocated from the temporary strip to the permanent one.

1345 GMT (8:45 a.m. EST)

There are available deorbit and landing opportunities for KSC and Edwards on four consecutive orbits today. All times are EST:


ORBIT..SITE.....DEORBIT....LANDING

Sunday, 11/30/08

248....KSC......12:14 PM...01:19 PM
249....KSC......01:50 PM...02:54 PM
250....EDW......03:20 PM...04:25 PM
251....EDW......04:57 PM...06:00 PM

1330 GMT (8:30 a.m. EST)

At this point in the landing preps, Endeavour is being put in the cold-soak attitude in which the thermal protection system is pointed at deep space as a conditioning measure prior to reentry. And this has been proven over the years to help keep the avionics' temperatures in check during the landing.

1325 GMT (8:25 a.m. EST)

The space shuttle Endeavour astronauts are preparing for return to Earth today, yet they aren't sure when or where the landing will occur. A bleak weather forecast for the primary landing site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida means a detour to Edwards Air Force Base in California is possible later in the day.

CAPCOM Alan Poindexter in Mission Control just gave Endeavour commander Chris Ferguson the latest weather forecast for the Kennedy Space Center and Edwards Air Force Base. The outlook for the Florida spaceport is "no go" due to low clouds, crosswinds, thunderstorms and turbulance. But the alternate site in California has favorable conditions today.

"Edwards is a 'go' forecast, looks real nice out there," Poindexter said.

Mission Control will continue to evaluate the weather before having the crew close the payload bay doors, which would occur an hour from now in support of the first landing opportunity today. The door closure could be delayed until later, however, if flight director Bryan Lunney decides to cancel the initial KSC landing opportunity.

The Spaceflight Meteorology Group's forecast for KSC is calling for broken decks of clouds at 5,000 and 10,000 feet, overcast conditions at 25,000 feet, south-southwesterly winds from 200 degrees at 19 peaking to 28 knots, rain and perhaps thunderstorms within 30 miles of the runway and moderate turbulance below 10,000 feet.

Edwards is expecting just a few clouds at 30,000 feet, good visibility and northeasterly winds of 6 peaking to 11 knots down the runway.

1310 GMT (8:10 a.m. EST)

Our morning story is posted with updates on the shuttle landing and station cargo ship docking.

1257 GMT (7:57 a.m. EST)

The entry flight control team, led by Bryan Lunney, has begun its shift in Mission Control. At this hour, the team is overseeing the pre-landing alignment of Endeavour's inertial measurement units and receiving its first weather briefing of the morning.

1229 GMT (7:29 a.m. EST)

A Russian resupply craft carrying more than 2.5 tons of cargo successfully docked to the international space station at 7:28 a.m. EST this morning after a cosmonaut aboard the outpost took over manual control moments before the linkup.

The automated rendezvous system had brought the cargo ship within about 20 meters of the docking port before something prompted Russian flight controllers to instruct Expedition 18 flight engineer Yury Lonchakov to override the computers and fly the docking using joysticks and a TV camera view.

"Capture confirmed," Lonchakov radioed.

"Yury, excellent work!" a Russian flight controller called. "Good job. Congtratulations."

The Progress M-01M freighter was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Wednesday and spent the past couple of days testing computer control system upgrades that have been incorporated into the spacecraft.

One of its navigation antennas failed to deploy immediately after reaching orbit, but subsequent thruster firings apparently helped to free the antenna and ground controllers reported a few hours later that it was extended.

The "dry" cargo packed aboard the Progress amounts to 2,963 pounds in the form of spare parts, life support gear, equipment hardware and holiday presents for the station's crew.

The refueling module carries 1,808 pounds of propellant for transfer into the Russian segment of the complex to feed the station's maneuvering thrusters.

And the vessel has 108 pounds of oxygen and air, plus 463 pounds of water to replenish the station's supplies.

Docking to the station's Pirs module occurred as the two craft flew 225 miles over the planet.

Lonchakov, along with Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke and science officer Sandy Magnus, plan to open the hatchway and enter the freighter later today.

This 31st Progress sent to the international space station will remain docked until February when the crew will load trash and unneeded equipment into the craft for disposal.

1223 GMT (7:23 a.m. EST)

Expedition 18 flight engineer Yury Lonchakov is taking manual control of the Progress cargo ship that is nearing docking with the international space station. The craft had been approaching the outpost using its automated rendezvous system, but Russian flight controllers just instructed the cosmonaut to take over using joysticks and a television screen from inside the station.

A NASA spokesman says it's not yet clear what prompted the switch, which occurred with about 20 meters separating the two spacecraft.

1159 GMT (6:59 a.m. EST)

The latest weather forecast for the Kennedy Space Center looks more bleak than the outlooks generated yesterday. At landing time this afternoon, the Spaceflight Meteorology Group is calling for broken decks of clouds at 5,000 and 10,000 feet, overcast conditions at 25,000 feet, south-southwesterly winds from 200 degrees at 19 peaking to 28 knots, rain and perhaps thunderstorms within 30 miles of the runway and moderate turbulance below 10,000 feet.

The weather rule violations would include low ceilings, rain and crosswinds.

But the backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California is expecting just a few clouds at 30,000 feet, good visibility and northeasterly winds of 6 peaking to 11 knots down the runway.

0958 GMT (4:58 a.m. EST)

Mission Control just radioed up the theme music from "Rocky" for commander Chris Ferguson to awaken the astronauts and begin Flight Day 17.

A couple of hours from now, the crew will be getting into their final preps for landing. NASA intends to bring Endeavour toward a landing today at either the primary Kennedy Space Center site in Florida or the alternate site at Edwards Air Force Base in California, weather permitting.

A detailed deorbit timeline for today's landing opportunities is available here. Maps showing the ground tracks into the landing sites are posted here.

NASA forecasters continue to predict that a cold front moving into Central Florida could bring crosswinds, rain and perhaps thunderstorms into the KSC area by landing time that would violate the weather rules.

The weather outlook for California looks good.

Meanwhile, a Russian cargo vessel that launched Wednesday is nearing the international space station for docking this morning. The automated rendezvous and linkup is scheduled for about 7:25 a.m. EST. The freighter is loaded with supplies, food, water and rocket fuel.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2008

Entry Flight Director Bryan Lunney hopes the Florida weather will cooperate and permit the Endeavour astronauts to land Sunday at the Kennedy Space Center. But if predicted high crosswinds and thunderstorms develop, and if Monday's forecast promises little improvement, he'll divert the crew to Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert.

Read our full story.

2055 GMT (3:55 p.m. EST)

Data from a final inspection of the shuttle Endeavour's reinforced carbon carbon nose cap and wing leading edge panels show the ship is in good shape for landing Sunday, the chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team said today.

Read our full story.

2033 GMT (3:33 p.m. EST)

PICOSAT DEPLOYED. From a small canister on the starboard sidewall of space shuttle Endeavour's payload bay, the U.S. Air Force's Picosat was successfully deployed at 3:33 p.m. EST over the South Pacific when the astronauts flipped a switch on the flight deck to spring-eject the tiny cargo.

The Pico-Satellite Solar Cell Experiment is designed to test the space environment effects on new solar-power technology to be use aboard future military spacecraft.

Picosat is a 5 x 5 x 10 inch satellite. It will serve as a testbed prior to launch of another solar cell experiment aboard an expendable rocket into geosynchronous transfer orbit for radiation exposure checks.

1852 GMT (1:52 p.m. EST)

Mission Control just radioed Endeavour commander Chris Ferguson with news that analysis of yesterday's final heat shield inspections determined the shuttle is safe for entry tomorrow.

1800 GMT (1:00 p.m. EST)

The astronauts fired up one of Endeavour's auxiliary power units this morning and moved the ship's aerosurfaces through planned tests to ensure the systems are ready to guide the shuttle home tomorrow. Later, the crew performed a hotfire test of the various jets and thrusters. Meanwhile, packing of equipment in the crew module is underway.

For landing times and information, see our Landing Info Page here.

And maps showing Endeavour's path to the primary landing site at Kennedy Space Center and the backup site at Edwards Air Force Base are posted here.

1325 GMT (8:25 a.m. EST)

Keeping tabs on threatening weather, the Endeavour astronauts are working through what they hope will be their last full day in orbit, stowing equipment and testing the shuttle's re-entry systems before landing Sunday at the Kennedy Space Center to close out a 16-day space station assembly mission.

Read our full story.

Read our earlier status center coverage.



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