www.wingsmagazine.com

News
Cdn astronaut Julie Payette lands aboard shuttle Endeavour after 16 day mission

July 31, 2009 – Canada's Julie Payette and six fellow astronauts landed at Florida's Kennedy Space Center late Friday morning, after a 16-day mission to International Space Station that included a historic Canadian first.


July 31, 2009
By Allison Jones | The Canadian Press

July 31, 2009 – Canada's Julie Payette and six fellow astronauts landed at Florida's Kennedy Space Center late Friday morning, after a 16-day mission to International Space Station that included a historic Canadian first.

The seven-person crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour landed safely at 10:48 a.m. EDT after blasting off July 15.

It was a historic mission for Canada's space program, as it marked the first time two Canadian astronauts were in space at once.

The shuttle's smooth and punctual arrival set off a stream of praise.

"Congratulations on a superb mission from beginning to end. Very well done," Mission Control radioed.

"We're happy to be home," replied commander Mark Polansky.

When the Endeavour crew arrived at the International Space Station they were met by six astronauts already there, including Canadian Robert Thirsk, who is two months into a six-month stint.

There had been some concern about debris seen falling off a fuel tank during liftoff.

Debris generated during takeoff has been a grave concern for NASA ever since the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry in 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard. The tragedy occurred as a result of damage to the shuttle's wing caused by falling foam during liftoff.

Endeavour rocketed into orbit 16 days ago on a construction job at the International Space Station.

The astronauts celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing with their own spacewalk and coped with a flooded toilet and an overheated air-purifier.

Five spacewalks were performed in this mission, during which the 13-person crew made improvements to the giant orbiting lab, conducted experiments and did maintenance.

This wasn't Payette's first time at the space station in 1999 she became the first Canadian to visit when she was on the shuttle Discovery.

Payette has said she hopes to make another trip into the heavens one day.

Endeavour's mission represents the last time a Canadian will board a space shuttle.

NASA intends to suspend its shuttle program late next year and until 2015 while it builds the next generation of spacecraft.

The agency will transport the astronauts using Russian airlifts similar to the one that bore Thirsk into orbit on May 27

The returning astronauts Friday included Japan's Koichi Wakata, who spent four-and-half-months in orbit. He has said he can't wait to eat some sushi and see his wife and son.

A Japanese space lab at the station got a front porch for outdoor experiments during Endeavour's visit. The astronauts also installed fresh batteries and stockpiled big spare parts.