Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Endeavour Prepares for Station Undocking

Flying high on the heels of a NASA-termed successful mission, the space shuttle Endeavour is just hours away from undocking with the international space station following nearly 12 days of docked operations.

The combined thirteen humans will say their goodbyes as the seven member crew of Endeavour boards the orbiter and the two ships close and lock their hatches at 10:23 am EDT. Endeavour's crew of commander Mark "Roman" Polansky, pilot Douglas Hurley, and mission specialists Chris Cassidy, David Wolf, Tomas Marshburn, Julie Payette (Canada) and former space station crewmember Koichi Wakata (Japan).

Wakata is returning home to earth following a four month stay aboard station as a member of the Expedition 18, 19 and 20 crews. He is being replaced on station by former Endeavour-launched astronaut Tim Kopra. Kopra will live aboard station through the end of August when Discovery arrives on the STS-128 resupply mission.

Undocking is planned for 1:26 pm today, as the two crafts fly through orbital darkness over Russia. Endeavour will be half-way through her 203 earth orbit of the mission.

Endeavour's pilot Hurley will move the ship out to 600 feet from the orbital outpost in space and begin a 360 degree fly around. During the station-go-round, Endeavour's astronauts will use cameras and survey the new look of the space station, which now includes the newly installed Japanese Experiment Platform on the Kibo module.

Endeavour's crew awoke this morning to the great music of Lee Greenwood's, Proud to Be an American, in hour of Chris Cassidy who performed three spacewalks on this STS-127 mission.

This was the first time in human history which saw thirteen people together in one spacecraft work and live together - and it will not be the last.

On Wednesday, a recently launched Russian cargo craft will move in and dock with the space station. The Progress M-67, carrying food, water, oxygen, supplies and fuel is scheduled to dock at 7:16 am EDT.

Endeavour is set to return home on Friday morning back here here at the Kennedy Space Center with a touchdown time of 10:47 am.

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