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Atlantis and Its Crew Land Safely in California

With Commander Scott Altman and Pilot Gregory C. Johnson at the controls, space shuttle Atlantis descended to a smooth landing Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The crew of seven ended their successful 13-day mission to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope when the shuttle touched down at 11:39 a.m. EDT.

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Stormy weather prevented Atlantis from landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"Welcome home, Atlantis," Mission Control radioed once the shuttle came to a safe stop. "Congratulations on a very successful mission giving Hubble a new set of eyes."

"It was a thrill from start to finish," Altman replied. "We've had a great ride."

Atlantis was supposed to land Friday at Kennedy, but bad weather forced the shuttle and its crew to circle Earth for two days. NASA officials had hoped the thunderstorms in Florida would ease up enough for Atlantis to land. When they didn't, Mission Control instructed the shuttle and its crew to touch down at alternate landing site in California.

Atlantis ended up circling Earth 197 times and logged 5.3 million miles during its journey.

The space shuttle blasted off on May 11 on an 11-day mission to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope. In five action-packed back-to-back spacewalks, the astronauts successfully completed the ambitious mission of repairs and upgrades to the 19-year-old telescope, extending Hubble's life through the next decade. On Tuesday, the Atlantis crew released the rejuvenated telescope to continue its study of the universe. The mission is NASA's fifth and final servicing mission to Hubble.

Tune in later

Return to this website in early September to see the first images from the revived Hubble.

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