Shuttle Endeavour lands at California air base

The space shuttle Endeavor touched down safely Sunday afternoon at California’s Edwards Air Force Base after NASA turned down two chances for a landing in Florida because of bad weather.

The Endeavor plans to land Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The shuttle, led by Commander Christopher Ferguson, touched down at 1:25 pm, ending a mission that lasted more than two weeks.

Wind, rain and reports of thunderstorms within 30 miles of the shuttle landing facility at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center prompted NASA to cancel landing attempts there. Those were scheduled for 1:19 p.m. and 2:54 p.m. ET.

After determining that Monday’s weather forecast at the Kennedy Space Center was similarly bleak, flight controllers decided they would attempt to land the shuttle and its seven astronauts at Edwards AFB, about 100 miles from Los Angeles, California, where the Sunday’s forecast was sunny.

Flight controllers prefer landings at the Kennedy Space Center due to cost and schedule. NASA has estimated that it costs about $1.7 million to fly a shuttle back to the Kennedy Space Center from California. Video Watch Endeavour’s Sunday landing in California »

It also takes at least a week to get the shuttle ready for the trip, but the schedule isn’t a big factor for Endeavour; she is not scheduled to fly again until May.

Endeavour’s 15-day mission to the international space station began on November 14 and included four spacewalks.

During that time, the crew brought in key pieces, including exercise equipment, more sleeping bunks and a urine recycling system, for a project to double the station’s capacity from three internal astronauts to six.

The recycling system was installed to convert the astronauts’ urine and sweat into drinking water.

Other modules are scheduled to arrive on a February transport flight. The goal of expanding the station’s capacity to six astronauts is expected to be reached by the summer.

The crew also worked on a joint that helps generate power for the space station. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen spent hours cleaning and lubricating the Solar Alpha rotary joint, which is designed to allow the solar panels on the left side of the station to rotate and follow the sun.

The astronauts also removed and replaced several nest bearing assemblies.

The mission went according to plan, despite a minor hiccup on the first spacewalk when a grease gun in Stefanyshyn-Piper’s tool bag leaked, coating everything inside with a film of lubricant. As she tried to clean it up, the bag, with $100,000 worth of tools, floated away.