Atlantis starts home journey

May 23rd, 2010 - 11:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 23 (DPA) The US space shuttle Atlantis separated from the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday to prepare for its home journey on the shuttle’s last-ever mission before being retired.
The Shuttle with its crew of six astronauts eased away from the ISS at 1522 GMT for the return flight and its scheduled landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida Wednesday.

The shuttle had brought new Russian research equipment and a docking module to the ISS in the ongoing construction of the international station.

Astronauts carried out three spacewalks to exchange the electrical batteries of the ISS and to install a new antenna.

The Atlantis had blasted off from Cape Canaveral May 14 for its final mission after 25 years in service.

After the Atlantis mission, only two further missions involving the Endeavour and Discovery shuttles, are planned by the US space agency NASA before they are also taken out of service.

Atlantis however will not be mothballed until the final two shuttle flights are finished. NASA wants to keep it ready for emergency rescue missions.

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