Houston: Space shuttle Endeavour ended a 16-day mission, its longest ever, and headed for home on Wednesday. The mission delivered a Japanese laboratory module and conducted a record five space walks in order to erect a Canadian robot arm at the International Space Station (ISS).
The Endeavour was docked at the space station for 12 days.
An outstanding achievement of the mission was the installation of the first segment of Japan's three-piece Kibo (Hope) laboratory, which finally gave the Asian economic giant a presence on the station. With one segment of the Kibo onboard, all 15-partner nations are now represented onboard the $100 billion space station.
The main lab of Kibo will be delivered to the space station in May, and the final piece, an external platform, will be delivered early next year. Kibo will be the largest lab on the station.
The other critical mission undertaken successfully by the mission was the delivery and assembly of Dextre, a Canadian-built robot with 11-foot-long arms, designed to perform maintenance work on the station exterior.
NASA will conduct 10 more shuttle missions to construct and supply the ISS, now 70 per cent complete, before it retires the fleet in 2010.