With all the major objectives of the STS-111 mission accomplished, Endeavour’s astronauts will bid farewell to the new Expedition Five crew and undock from the International Space Station today, leaving ISS Commander Valery Korzun and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Sergei Treschev to begin their 4 ½ month stay on board the complex.
After final farewells and the closing of the hatches between the two vehicles, Endeavour will undock from the ISS at 9:32 a.m. Central time as the two craft fly over western Kazakhstan, not far from Russia’s primary launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
The initial separation will be provided by springs that will gently push the shuttle away from the station. When Endeavour is about two feet away from the station and the docking devices are clear of one another, Pilot Paul Lockhart will fire Endeavour’s steering jets to begin slowly moving away.
About 45 minutes after undocking, when Endeavour is 450 feet in front of the ISS, Lockhart will begin a one-hour flyaround of the station. After 1 ¼ laps of the complex, Lockhart will fire Endeavour’s jets to move away from the station about 11:16 a.m. Once Endeavour departs the outpost for the final time, the new ISS crew will begin to unpack gear and prepare for its long duration stay on orbit.
Endeavour’s astronauts – Lockhart, Chang-Diaz, Commander Ken Cockrell, Philippe Perrin, Dan Bursch, Yury Onufrienko and Carl Walz – were awakened just before 3:30 Central time this morning to the song, “Hello to All the Children of the World”, prepared for Bursch by his son’s classmates.
Endeavour is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center just before noon Central time Monday, bringing Onufrienko, Bursch and Walz home after 194 days in space, which for Walz and Bursch will set a new U.S. single spaceflight endurance mark. Landing Monday will result in one more day in space for Onufrienko than he logged in 1996 as Commander of the former Russian Mir Space Station.
Endeavour and the ISS to continue to function normally as they orbit at an altitude of around 240 statute miles.
The next STS-111 status report will be issued Saturday evening, or earlier, if events warrant.
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