Sunday, May 29, 2011

Endeavour Mission Hailed As A "Big Success"

The joined crews of Endeavour and the International Space Station went their separate ways today as the six shuttle astronauts prepared to depart the outpost late tonight, heading off on a two-day journey back to Kennedy Space Center.

Shuttle skipper Mark Kelly and station commander Andrey Borisenko gathered crewmates in the U.S. Harmony module for a final farewell ceremony prior to the shuttle's scheduled 11:55 p.m. departure from the outpost.

The Expedition 28 crew also includes flight engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan. Rounding out the shuttle crew were pilot Gregory "Box" Johnson and four mission specialists: Greg Chamitoff, Drew Feustel, Mike Fincke and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency.

Kelly recounted the accomplishments made during STS-134, the next-to-last shuttle mission. The crew installed a $2 billion cosmic ray detector and a pallet of large spare parts, conducted the final four spacewalks by shuttle astronauts, and transferred thousands of pounds of supplies and equipment between the spacecraft.

"It was really a good 10 days or so that we were docked here. We're looking forward to gettng home, and we're going to leave you guys to some peace and quiet, and not disturb the space station anymore," Kelly said.

"It was really good seeing you guys. It was great getting to spend time on this incredible orbital complex," Garan said, adding that he was "in awe" of Endeavour's crew -- a "finely oiled machine."

He thanked the shuttle astronauts for preparing the station ready to operate through at least 2020.

"You really left us in good shape. It was really a big success."

Said Borisenko: "Thank you very much, and soft landings."

Hatches between the spacecraft closed at 7:23 a.m. EDT, or 10 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes after they swung open on May 18.

Endeavour and its crew are scheduled to wing up NASA's 134th shuttle mission with a 2:35 a.m. landing Wednesday at KSC.


Dr. Dan Woodard said...

Cancellation of the Shuttle by Bush in January 2004 was a tragic mistake that has left America without a means of carrying people into space.

Mark Lopa said...

Agreed. Obama didn't help matters by cancelling its replacement.