Today at 14:48:08 UTC, the Space Shuttle Endeavour landed on Runway 15 of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral in Florida, ending a 16-day mission to the ISS. At 13:27 UTC the entry flight director Bryan Lunney in Mission Control gave final approval for Endeavour de-orbit burn with the Time of Ignition (TIG) at 13:41:10 UTC. The burn lasted 2 minutes and 51 seconds and slowed the orbiter down by about 332 km/h. The orbiter encountered the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere at around 14:16 UTC marking the beginning of the entry interface (EI).
The STS-127 flight delivered to the station the final 2 modules of the Japanese Kibo complex finishing the 10-year long effort for permanent Japanese presence in space. Mission specialists Dave Wolf, Chris Cassidy, Tom Mashburn and Tim Kopra combined for almost 32 hours in space during the planned 5 spacewalks (EVA). Koichi Wakata (STS-119) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency returned to Earth after Tim Kopra joined the crew of Expedition 20 as a flight engineer. Tim will remain on the station until Nicole Stott of STS-128 will take his place.
With Endeavour and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the launch of STS-128, targeted for August 25 at 05:36 UTC (which could very well be the last night launch of a space shuttle). Discovery will use a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to carry experiment and storage racks to the International Space Station. There are 7 more shuttle flights (including STS-128) remaining in the shuttle program. The STS-134 mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery (launch targeted for September 16, 2010) will bring an end to an important era of human space flight.