The space shuttle Endeavour has begun its two-day trip back to Earth after successfully undocking yesterday from the international space station, reports the Houston Chronicle. The seven astronauts on board hailed an "awesome" mission and said fond farewells to their colleagues staying behind. A glitch unlatching a solar panel delayed Endeavour's retreat from the station.
After finally departing, the shuttle slowly looped around the 220-mile-high outpost for some final photographs. The shuttle's return to Earth, planned for just before twilight tomorrow night, will bring to an end the longest mission of its kind ever attempted. The station's next visitor will be an unmanned European cargo ship. A Russian spacecraft arrives next month and NASA returns with Discovery in May.