After a 14-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS), space shuttle Endeavour is heading back to the Earth.
Endeavour, along with its six-member crew, is expected to return on Sunday night at 10:16 p.m. in NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
During the mission, astronauts installed a major component of the ISS. A room called the Tranquility mode, along with a seven-window space observation deck, was added, which earned praise from President Barack Obama.
Tranquility, built for NASA by Thales Alenia Space in Italy, was delivered to NASA in May, but the space agency took possession of the same on Nov. 30, 2009.
“This flight will, I think, grab the public's attention. It's just going to be a really, really neat module for those on board. The dream of being able to go out and just have an unencumbered view of space – we'll have it. You can open up all the windows and look around and really feel like you're out there,” said Kirk Shireman, ISS program deputy manager.
The new additions cost approximately $409 million.
Safe landing depends on weather
On Saturday, chairman of the mission management team LeRoy Cain said that there was a 50-50 chance that the weather would cooperate for the shuttle to land on Sunday.
“We're always hopeful, and I guess I would call it optimistic. We're a long ways away, meteorologically speaking, so there are a lot of ways this could turn out,” Cain said.
Shuttle commander George Zamka said he had a great time in the last 14 days.
“Thanks very much for the great hospitality. We're sorry to go. Hope you enjoy Tranquility and the new view,” said Zamka.
Currently, the space shuttle has power and supplies to last until Tuesday.
Tranquility is a 24-foot long room attached to the left side of the ISS’s central Unity module.
Named after NASA's Apollo 11 moon base, it is like the crown jewel of the space station.
“Getting to look out the shuttle windows and the station windows has been awesome,” said Endeavour pilot Terry Virts. “But when we looked out the Cupola, it's impossible to put into words...it took my breath away.”
Before landing, Endeavour astronauts will conduct one last inspection of the spacecraft. The survey is a normal task after 2003 Columbia tragedy.