The space shuttle Endeavour landed safely in Southern California on Sunday after it was rerouted from Cape Canaveral, Fla., because of stormy weather.
Approaching Edwards Air Force Base in rural Los Angeles County at 235 mph, the shuttle touched down at its expected time of 1:25 p.m., producing two sonic booms as it broke the sound barrier.
“It was textbook. It was just absolutely perfect,” said NASA spokesman George Diller. “If we’re going to land it at Edwards, that’s exactly what we like to see.”
The sonic booms that arrived a few minutes before the landing were heard across the county and startled some residents who called the Los Angeles Fire Department because of what they thought were explosions.
Firefighters went to a home in North Hollywood after the caller said the house was shaking, but they found nothing, a fire official said.
High winds and possible thunderstorms at Cape Canaveral prompted the route change for the shuttle, whose seven-person crew had been servicing the International Space Station for two weeks in preparation for larger crews on longer missions, NASA officials said.
“The advantage of Edwards is, of course, that the weather is almost always favorable there, plus they have an infinite amount of room,” Diller said.
The only drawback to the new route, he added, is the week of time lost as officials prepare the shuttle for its return to Florida atop a 747 jetliner.