The Expedition Three crew – Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin – officially ended their 117-day residency on board the International Space Station today as their custom Soyuz seatliners were transferred to Endeavour for the return trip home.
The transfer of the Expedition Four seatliners to the Soyuz return vehicle attached to the station marked the official exchange of crews. Culbertson reported that his crew had completed the exchange and that Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch had become official station residents at 4:11 p.m. CST. Handover briefings between the two crews will continue for the duration of docked operations.
While the crew exchange was under way, aboard Endeavour Pilot Mark Kelly and Mission Specialist Linda Godwin used the shuttle's robotic arm to lift the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module from the shuttle payload bay and attach it to a berth on the station's Unity node. Raffaello was removed from the payload bay at 11:01 a.m. CST and secured in place on the station at 11:55 a.m. CST. The hatch to Raffaello was opened and the crews began unloading the cargo module just before 7:30 p.m. CST. Over the course of the next several days, the crews will work together to transfer approximately three tons of food and supplies from Raffaello to the station.
The crews will begin a sleep period at 10:19 p.m. CST and awaken at 6:19 a.m. CST Sunday. Sunday's work will focus on unloading Raffaello, continuing an exchange of information between the two station crews and some preparatory work for a space walk planned to take place Monday by shuttle astronauts Godwin and Dan Tani. Endeavour and the International Space Station remain in excellent condition with no significant systems problems of concern to Mission Control.
The next STS-108 mission status report will be issued about 7 a.m. CST Sunday or as events warrant.
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