Endeavour mission called 'super flight'

January 20, 1993|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Blanketing central Florida with a thunderous sunrise serenade, space shuttle Endeavour returned to Kennedy Space Center, a successful conclusion to the first flight of 1993 and a turning-point year for the nation's space program.

"Congratulations on a super flight," astronaut Kevin Chilton radioed the five-member crew after yesterday morning's landing. "It was a great start for . . . 1993."

Endeavour astronauts completed their main objective early in the mission -- deployment of a sophisticated space switchboard, a tracking data relay communications satellite.

But this year marks a major shift in focus for shuttle crews.

"The days of the shuttle putting up satellites are just about over," NASA spokesman George Diller said.

"Just about everything from here on out is science or space station work ... using the shuttle to build our predominant bridge to space."

After a steady diet of satellite launches, only two more are scheduled this decade.

With the exception of December's planned rescue of the Hubble Space Telescope and the launch of an advanced communications technology satellite, the rest of the year -- five launches -- is devoted to science.

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