NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour prepares to leave space station, return to Earth

May 29th, 2011 - 8:29 pm ICT by BNO News  

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (BNO NEWS) — The six crew members of the space shuttle Endeavour on Sunday said farewell to the three Expedition 28 crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and will now prepare to return to Earth.

The Endeavour crew said farewell to the Expedition 28 crew at around 7 a.m. EDT before they closed the hatches between Endeavour and the space station. It brings to an end nearly 11 days on the ISS.

During the docked operations, the crew delivered and installed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 to study cosmic particles and the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 3 with spare parts, and performed four spacewalks to perform maintenance and install components on the station, including the Enhanced International Space Station Boom Assembly that marked the completion of the U.S. Orbital Segment of the station.

During the fourth and final spacewalk, which lasted seven hours and 24 minutes, Endeavour astronauts Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff stowed a 50-foot (15 meters) long boom and added a power and data grapple fixture to make it the Enhanced International Space Station Boom Assembly, available to extend the reach of the space station’s robotic arm.

It was the 248th spacewalk U.S. astronauts have conducted and the 118th from space station airlocks. It also marked the 1,000th hour astronauts and cosmonauts have spent spacewalking in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

With Endeavour’s hatches now closed, the crew will prepare for undocking at 11.55 p.m. EDT on Sunday by completing a check out of the rendezvous tools and installing a centerline camera before concluding their flight day at 11.26 a.m. EDT Monday.

Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8.56 a.m. local time on May 16 after several weeks of delay due to a technical problem. The spacecraft is expected to land on Wednesday at 2.32 a.m. EDT, after which Endeavour will retire.

After Endeavour’s current mission, space shuttle Atlantis will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, after it will go on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex. The Orion aircraft is expected to replace the space shuttle.

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