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Endeavour And Station Crews Say Goodbye

February 19, 2010

Hatches between Endeavour and the International Space Station were closed at 2:08 a.m. CST. During 9 days, 52 minutes of joint operations, the station got a new module and a viewport offering a valuable, enjoyable vantage.

Hatch closure came after a farewell ceremony by the two crews. Endeavour Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts and Mission Specialists Kathryn Hire, Stephen Robinson, Nicholas Patrick and Robert Behnken said their goodbyes in the Harmony module to Station Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineers Maxim Suraev, Oleg Kotov, Soichi Noguchi and T.J. Creamer.

As shuttle astronauts filed out of the forward end of Harmony, Williams formally rang the station bell marking their departure. Endeavour is scheduled to undock from the station at 6:54 p.m. today and land at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 9:16 p.m. Sunday.

During Endeavour’s visit, Behnken and Patrick completed three spacewalks, largely focused on installing the new Tranquility module and attaching and unwrapping its seven-windowed cupola. The entire crew pitched in to outfit the new module with exercise and regenerative life support systems.

Zamka and Williams collaborated on a cupola ribbon-cutting ceremony, dedicating it to astronaut Charles Lacy Veach, who was instrumental in early development of the cupola. He flew on two shuttle flights, STS-39 in 1991 and STS-52 in 1992, and died of cancer in 1995.

They also placed in the cupola a moon rock returned by Apollo 11 and later carried to the summit of Mount Everest by astronaut Scott Parazynski, along with chips from Everest. Zamka said that in continuing their journey for additional millions of miles, they will serve “as a reminder of man’s reach and man’s grit” as humans continue to explore.

The crews held their joint news conference about 8:40 p.m. Thursday. They fielded questions from reporters gathered at NASA centers and in Japan.

Final items of equipment and supplies between the two spacecraft were moved, resulting in a net transfer to the station of 1,313 pounds. The final transfers back to Endeavour included scientific specimens requiring refrigeration being moved to the shuttle.

Scheduled bedtime for Endeavour astronauts is 6:14 a.m. Their wakeup call for undocking day is set for 2:14 p.m.

Image Caption: An orbital sunrise is featured in this image photographed by Expedition 22 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi from a window in the newly-installed cupola of the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA 

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