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SHUTTLE BACK AFTER MISSION TO EQUIP SPACE STATION

Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven landed early today, ending a successful mission to outfit the international space station.

Powerful xenon lights illuminated the 3-mile-long runway as Atlantis swooped down, landing on time at 3:56 a.m.

It was the 15th nighttime landing in space shuttle history. Nighttime landings are becoming more common, now that NASA has a space station in orbit.

"We had a great time," commander Terrence Wilcutt said after inspecting his ship. "We're all glad to be back."

Wilcutt and his crew spent eight days at the space station, five of them inside. By the time they left Sunday night, they had hauled in and tucked away 3 tons of equipment.

The only disappointment was with one of five new batteries that were plugged into the Russian modules. It would not charge properly and was disconnected; the first residents will deal with the problem when they arrive in November.

Another crew is scheduled to depart for the space station Oct. 5 aboard Discovery, making NASA's 100th shuttle flight.

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