Sunday, May 29, 2011
The visiting crew of shuttle Endeavour said their farewells to the crew of the International Space Station today with words of hope and handshakes as they prepare to depart later tonight.
Shuttle commander Mark Kelly gave parting words of encouragement as he addressed the station's commander cosmonaut Andrey I. Borisenko and his crew NASA astronaut Ron Garan and cosmonaut Alexander Samokutyaev.
"We're looking forward to getting home and we're gonna leave these guys to some peace and quiet and not disturb their space station any more," Kelly said during opening remarks during the brief ceremony.
Kelly also remembered the veterans who have lost their life to recent wars during the farewell ceremony.
"On this Memorial Day weekend, I would also like to say that as a crew we're thinking of the veterans out there that have lost their lives in wars and more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it's really important for the American people to honor those folks over this weekend and particularly tomorrow on Monday," Kelly pointed out before turning the radio mic over to Garan.
"It was really great seeing you guys. It was great spending time on an incredible orbital complex. We were just in awe of the finely oiled machine that is STS-134... it was great EVA's, great robotics, great transfer (and) AMS being installed," Garan summed up to the departing crew of six astronauts.
"We want to thank you and the entire STS-134 mission team for leaving the space station ready for it's continued utilization for at least the next decade. You really left us in good shape and it was really a big success and proud to be and have a small part of it," Garan added.
Borisenko thanked the visiting crew on their work, and then he and the crews exchanged hugs and handshakes before Endeavour's crew of Kelly, pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialists Mike Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency floated through the airlock and into their awaiting shuttle.
The hatches were officially closed at 7:23 am EDT, ten days, 23 hours & 45 minutes after the hatches were opened.
Endeavour docked to the space station over eleven days ago, and delivered an international experiment designed to study cosmic rays and dark matter in the universe from outside the complex; a platform loaded with experiments and spare hardware; and fresh supplies and water for the station's crew.
Endeavour's crew will head to sleep at about 11:30 a.m. this morning and awaken eight hours later to prepare for tonight's undocking at 11:55 p.m.
One of the highlights following the shuttle's fly around of the space station by Johnson will be the reapproach by Endeavour to the complex to test new orbital navigation equipment.
Known as the Sensor Test for Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation, or STORRM, Endeavour will perform a separation burn following the fly around, and later will begin to test a next generation aide in navigating and docking in orbit by the future Orion spacecraft.
Endeavour will move about 19,000 feet away from the orbiting complex before using STORRM to close back in to a range of about 600 feet.
Earlier in their day, Saturday night Eastern Time, Kelly was notified that a portion of STORRM had failed and could not be recovered.
The multi-equipment setup for STORRM navigation includes a laptop on the flight deck, a sensor on the shuttle's port payload bay wall and a high def camera.
It is this docking camera which the crew will be unable to use due to an overheat of an electronics board which operates the system.
However, as Endeavour sails upon the ocean of space near her port-of-call, her tests with STORRM will pave the way for the next craft used for American spaceflight.