Storm Forces Shuttle Home Early

Astronauts wrap up early to reach Houston before Hurricane Dean
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2007 5:48 PM CDT
Storm Forces Shuttle Home Early
In this image made available Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007 by NASA, a portion of the International Space Station frames this view of the lower portion of Italy and a portion of Sicily, photographed by a STS-118 crewmember while Space Shuttle Endeavour remains docked with the station, Tuesday Aug. 14, 2007....   (Associated Press)

NASA managers worried about the wrath of Hurricane Dean have ordered shuttle Endeavour home a day earlier than planned, the AP reports. Astronauts wrapped up a space walk today and prepared for a trip that would leave tomorrow and land in Houston on Tuesday. One astronaut clearly saw the hurricane’s eye from 214 miles over the Caribbean: "Hooo, man, yeah, can't miss that," he said.

Houston says it was a tough call because Dean, now a savage category 4 storm, is headed for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico and may or may not hit Houston. Earlier this week they okay’d the shuttle's return trip without repairing a deep cut in its belly, saying the gash would not cause a Columbia-like breakup when re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. (More Endeavour stories.)

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