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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The DEXTRE robot...which was built by the Canadian Space Agency for the ISS project.

TRULY INTERNATIONAL... Space shuttle Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, and is now scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in about 4 hours. During its 16-day flight, Endeavour’s astronauts assembled and installed a giant robot (shown above) that will help the ISS’ crew conduct maintenance activities on the exterior of the outpost without resorting to dangerous spacewalks. The crew also attached the first of two pressurized modules that will make up Japan’s Kibo science laboratory (the main Kibo module is set to launch in May, and a science platform that will be attached to the outside of the lab will hopefully launch early next year). The robot, nicknamed Dextre and built by the Canadian Space Agency, and the Japanese module brings every international partner involved in the $100 billion project onboard. The United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada now have joint real estate orbiting more than 200 miles up in space.

Astronauts onboard the space shuttle Endeavour photograph the International Space Station shortly after undocking on Monday, March 24.

UPDATE: Endeavour touched down at Kennedy Space Center today at 5:39 PM, Pacific Daylight Time.

Endeavour touched down at Kennedy Space Center today at 5:39 PM, Pacific Daylight Time.
Images courtesy of NASA / Gary Rothstein