Space Shuttle Endeavour Makes Final Return to Earth

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Photo: Bruce Weaver/AFP/Getty Images

Space shuttle Endeavour and its six astronauts — including commander Mark Kelly, the husband of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — landed for the final time today at the Kennedy Space Center after a sixteen-day mission to the International Space Station. The shuttle made 248 orbits around Earth and traveled more than 6.5 million miles while installing a $2 billion cosmic ray detector, an extension beam, and a platform full of spare parts to the International Space Station. Before the shuttle's landing, thousands watched Atlantis make its way to the launch pad for the last-ever space shuttle launch, scheduled to take place on July 8. Endeavour is bound for a museum in California, and Atlantis will be sent to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex for public display after its mission.

Next-to-Last Space Shuttle Flight Lands on Earth [AP]