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Space Shuttle Atlantis Lands in California


The U.S. space shuttle Atlantis has landed in California after bad weather, for the second day in a row, prevented it from landing at its home base in Florida. VOA's Jessica Berman reports.

Amid clear skies and calm winds, Atlantis coasted to a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California Friday afternoon.

Astronaut Tony Antonelli at mission control in Houston greeted the Atlantis crew members after they touched down. "Atlantis, Houston. Welcome back. Congratulations on a great mission. Good job on continuing to expand the space station in preparation for adding modules from more of our international partners and stepping stones for the rest of the NASA exploration plan," he said.

During their 14-day mission, Atlantis' seven astronauts installed truss segments to support new solar arrays to power the International Space Station.

The mission, which was only supposed to be 11 days, was extended so repairs could be made to a torn thermal blanket that was damaged during lift off.

The mission was further complicated when critical computers aboard the Russian module of the International Space Station went down.

The computers control life support as well as navigation and the space station's orientation in orbit. After a number of tense days, the Russian cosmonauts managed to get the computers back on line.

Because the shuttle landed in California, NASA will now have to spend almost two million dollars to get it back to its base at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is flown back to Florida on a jumbo jet.

NASA's next space mission is scheduled for August 9th, when the shuttle Endeavor will be launched. Its mission is to add another truss segment for solar panels to power the International Space Station.