Shuttle Atlantis Lands Safely

Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (AP) - Atlantis and its seven astronauts returned to Earth safely Friday, ending a two-week mission to deliver an addition to the international space station and bring home a crew member from the outpost.

Atlantis crossed the Pacific and glided to a stop on a runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

It was NASA's first manned flight of the year.

Earlier in the day, rain and clouds over Florida ruled out Kennedy Space Center as a landing point.

"We couldn't quite get comfortable with (Kennedy)," Mission Control told the Atlantis crew on Friday. "We are going to target Edwards."

During Atlantis' two chances to land Thursday, showers were within 34 miles of the landing strip at Kennedy Space Center, and clouds hung below an altitude of 8,000 feet, both violations of flight rules.

During the crew's 14-day mission to the international space station, the astronauts installed a new truss segment, unfurled a new pair of power-generating solar arrays and activated a rotating joint that allows the new solar arrays to track the sun.

Originally scheduled for 11 days, the mission was extended by two days to give astronauts time to repair a thermal blanket that had peeled away during the June 8 launch. Astronaut Danny Olivas stapled it back into place during a spacewalk. An extra day in orbit was added after the weather in Florida prevented a landing Thursday.

The shuttle's visit to the space station was complicated by the crash of Russian computers that control orientation and oxygen production.

Atlantis helped the station maintain its orientation for several days until the computers were revived. Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov used a cable to bypass a circuit board.

The cosmonauts at the space station attempted to power the Russian computers Thursday without using the cable bypass, but it was unsuccessful.

Copyright 2007. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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