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Space Shuttle Begins Trip Home Early

The U.S. space agency says the shuttle Endeavour has undocked from the International Space Station in preparation for an earlier-than-expected landing.

The shuttle is set to land on Tuesday, a day earlier than scheduled, at the U.S. spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA officials say they want to land the shuttle early in case Hurricane Dean threatens the Houston control center, which directs all shuttle operations.

The powerful storm with 230-kilometer per hour winds is battering Jamaica and is forecast to move through the Gulf of Mexico later this week.

The shuttle was at the space station for nearly nine days, during which time four space walks were conducted.

Earlier in the week, NASA officials decided the spacecraft would return to Earth without repairs to a small gouge in its exterior heat shield.

Endeavour's commander, Scott Kelly says the crew agrees with that decision and with engineers who say that a repair spacewalk could potentially cause even more damage.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.