Sunday, May 23, 2010

Atlantis and Space Station Crews Bid Farewell

The crew of the International Space Station said their good byes today to the crew of Atlantis as they parted ways following seven days of work to resupply earth's orbital outpost.

Over the last week, Atlantis delivered a new Russian module to the station; six fresh batteries for the port 6 truss solar array; a new high gain antenna; and fresh oxygen, nitrogen and supplies to the expanding space station.

Over 1,310 pounds of water -- a byproduct made by the electrical producing fuel cells of Atlantis -- were transferred over to station in large clear bags during the week.

In all, 28,792 pounds of mass was delivered to the space station by Atlantis' crew during the past week, according to Mission Control near Houston.

In contrast, Atlantis received 8,220 pounds of equipment and trash to return back to earth including the old six batteries and several critical experiments.

The two of the main three hatches between the station and shuttle were officially closed at 8:43 am EDT this morning, after six days and 20 hours opened.

At the helm of Atlantis is commander Kenneth Ham and pilot Tony Antonelli -- both pilots in the U.S. Navy. Mission specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Steve Bowen and Piers Sellers round out the crew of NASA's 132nd space shuttle mission.

Reisman, Bowen and Good each performed two spacewalks in support of upgrading hardware and changing out those six batteries on the station.

The six crew members aboard earth's orbital outpost -- Russian commander
Oleg Kotov; American astronauts Timothy J. Creamer and Tracey Caldwell Dyson; Japanese flight engineer Soichi Noguchi; and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko -- comprise the Expedition 23 crew.

Atlantis will undock at 11:22 am this morning to begin the three day trip home to the Kennedy Space Center.

And on June 2, Expedition 23's Kotov, Creamer and Noguchi will board their Soyuz TMA 17 spacecraft for the return home with a landing later in the day in northern Kazakhstan.

Expedition 24 with a crew of three will officially begin their three month reign with the Soyuz undocking. A new crew of three will then depart Kazakhstan on June 15 with the launch of a Russian Soyuz TMA 19 at 5:35 pm EDT (2135 GMT).

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