The 10 crewmembers of the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station will bid farewell to each other this morning shortly before the hatches are closed between the two vehicles about 7:30 a.m. CST prior to Endeavour’s departure from the complex.
Endeavour is bringing home the Expedition Three crew – Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin – who have been in space since they launched to the station on August 10. In addition to bringing home the Expedition Three crew, Endeavour carried to orbit both a new crew and almost three tons of supplies and experiments to the station. That new crew, Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Dan Bursch and Carl Walz, will remain aboard the space station until May.
The Endeavour astronauts were awakened for their 11th day in space at 4:17 a.m. by the song “Where I Come From,” by Alan Jackson, for Pilot Mark Kelly from his family.
Overnight, flight controllers decided to execute an additional reboost of the space station, designed to add about three-quarters of a mile to the station’s altitude. On Friday, flight controllers received word from U.S. Space Command that a spent Russian rocket upper stage, launched in the 1970s, could pass within three miles of the station. With today’s scheduled reboost, beginning at 8:55 a.m. and using Endeavour’s small firing jets for about 20 minutes, the space debris is now expected to pass more than 40 miles away from the station.
With Kelly at the controls, Endeavour is scheduled to undock from the station about 10:37 a.m., concluding more than a week of docked operations. Because today’s scheduled reboost will use additional propellant, Endeavour will not perform a full-circle flyaround of the station after undocking. Instead, the shuttle will undock from the station, performing a quarter circle flyaround of the complex to a point about 400 feet directly above the station where it will fire its engines in a final separation burn at 11:20 a.m. beginning its departure from the orbiting outpost.
On the station, all systems are functioning well, including a newly refurbished air conditioning unit in the Russian Zvezda Service Module which received a new compressor yesterday. The air conditioner was tested last night and is functioning normally.
The STS-108 and Expedition Three crewmembers will take time this afternoon to discuss the progress of their mission with KGO-TV in San Francisco, the Fox News
Network and Associated Press in an interview scheduled to begin at 3:09 p.m. today on NASA TV. The crew also will enjoy several hours of scheduled off duty time today prior to gearing up for Monday’s scheduled landing.
Homecoming at the Kennedy Space Center is scheduled at 11:55 a.m. Central time Monday. The early weather forecast calls for possible scattered and broken clouds and thunderstorms within 30 nautical miles of the landing strip.
The next Mission Control Status report will be issued about 6 p.m. CST Saturday or as events warrant.
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