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Shuttle Crew Makes Belated Return

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - NASA's science chief says now that the seven Atlantis crew members are safely on the ground, their mission can be declared a "total success."

During five spacewalks, the astronauts gave new science instruments and other new equipment to the Hubble Space Telescope, adding years to the life of the telescope.

The crew was supposed to return on Friday, but a few days of bad weather forced a delay -- and then today's detour to Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Shuttle commander Scott Altman says he "didn't realize it was going to be so hard to get back to the Earth."

The crew members are expected to return to their Houston homes later today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Atlantis will be prepared for its ferry flight back to Florida atop a Boeing 747.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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