November 24, 2009

Shuttle, Station Crews Prepare To Part

The 12 crew members onboard the International Space Station and space shuttle Atlantis will prepare to part today. They will pack up their final items and close the hatches that divide the two spacecraft in preparation for undocking tomorrow.

The crew woke at 12:58 a.m. to the "Marine Corps Hymn," performed by the U.S. Marine Corps Band and played for STS-129 Commander Charlie Hobaugh.

With six days of docked operations behind them, the astronauts and cosmonauts prepare to say their goodbyes and close the hatches about 11:28 a.m. Once the hatches are closed, the shuttle crew will set up and check out tools and a camera needed for undocking tomorrow.

Before the two crews part, they will join together for a news conference with reporters at NASA centers, Mission Control in Russia and Canada, and TF1 evening news in France. The interactive event will air live at 7 a.m.

Hobaugh, Pilot Barry Wilmore and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Mike Foreman, Randy Bresnik, Robert Satcher Jr. and Nicole Stott also will join ISS Commander Frank De Winne and his crew when he hands over his command to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams. Williams will command Expedition 22.

De Winne, who is the first European Space Agency commander of the station, became commander on Oct. 9. He will have served 46 days, the shortest tenure thus far for a station commander. He and Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk are set to depart the station on a Soyuz on Nov. 30 leaving Williams and Flight Engineer Max Suraev to await the next crew.


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