Saturday, May 28, 2011

Shuttle, Station Crews Ready For Farewells

The joined crews of Endeavour and the International Space Station will bid adieu early Sunday as six shuttle astronauts prepare to depart the outpost and start a two-day journey back to Kennedy Space Center.

All nine aboard will gather on the U.S. side of the station for a farewell ceremony that is scheduled to take place at 6:56 a.m. Station commander Andrey Borisenko and his two flight engineers -- Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan -- will be there along with Endeavour commander Mark Kelly, pilot Gregory "Box" Johnson and four shuttle mission specialists: Greg Chamitoff, Drew Feustel, Mike Fincke and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency.

The astronauts and cosmonauts will say their goodbyes, and then the hatches between the spacecraft will swing shut, separating the shuttle and station crews.

The Endeavour astronauts will spend the rest of their day preparing for a late Sunday departure from the station. Ficke and Chamitoff will attempt to finish up repairs to a backup U.S. carbon dioxide scrubber assembly. The job didn't get completely done earlier today, so another 2.5 hours has been allotted for the work.

Kelly and Johnson will power up an advanced rendezvous sensor system being developed for NASA's next-generation multipurpose crew exploration vehicle.

The design of the Apollo-style capsule is being adapted the Orion spacecraft Lockheed Martin had been building for the Project Constellation moon program before its cancellation. NASA last week announced they would pursue development of the derivative for missions beyond low Earth orbit.

Kelly and Johnson will test the system after Endeavour departs the station and flies a loop around the outpost. In a shuttle first, Endeavour will back straight away from the station for about five miles and the re-rendezvous with the outpost using the new guidance-and-navigation sensor system. The astronauts will not close within 600 feet of the station during the test. Once it's complete, shuttle thrusters will ignite and propel Endeavour on its way back to KSC.

Landing at the shuttle's homeport is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. Tuesday.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Is it 2:30 am or 2:30 pm? And if it's 2:30 AM, please tell me their approach to KSC is from the NORTH? Please God!