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STS-127 Crew Celebrates Smooth Landing Aboard Endeavour

Space shuttle Endeavour and a crew of seven astronauts touched down at 10:48 a.m. EDT at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, bringing an end to a complex mission to install the final section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory on the International Space Station. All of the STS-127 crew members are doing well after today's landing.

"The folks that have worked this mission really deserve a lot of praise for what they got accomplished during the time that we were docked to the International Space Station," STS-127 Commander Mark Polansky said during an afternoon news conference Friday. "In addition to that, it's a tremendous pleasure and honor to bring back a great astronaut from Japan, Koichi Wakata."

Wakata returned from the station as a member of the STS-127 crew after serving as the outpost's flight engineer since March. Replacing him aboard the station is Flight Engineer Tim Kopra. When asked how he is handling the return to Earth, Wakata replied, "When the hatch opened, I smelled the grass from the ground and was glad to be back home. Still feeling a little shaky when I walk, but I'm feeling very good."

The 16-day mission showcased the international partnerships involved in the space station effort. Astronauts from five space agencies were on board the orbiting complex.

"It was truly an impressive demonstration of international collaboration all throughout this mission," said Canadian Space Agency Director General of Operations Benoit Marcotte.

The astronauts' return to Houston's Ellington Field is tentatively set for about 5 p.m. Saturday.

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