The Expedition Five crew – Commander Valery Korzun, and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Sergei Treschev – are alone aboard the International Space Station today following this morning’s departure of Endeavour.
After final farewells among the STS-111 and Expedition Four and Five crews, the hatches between the spacecraft were closed at 7:23 a.m. Central today. Following a series of pressure and leak checks, Endeavour gently undocked from the Station at 9:32 a.m. as the two spacecraft flew over western Kazakhstan.
As Endeavour departed the station, Whitson rang the ship’s bell on board, announcing “Expedition Four departing, Endeavour departing.” Dan Bursch, who along with Yury Onufrienko and Carl Walz, spent 181 days aboard the station, responded with “smooth sailing, Peggy.” After a 1 ¼ lap flyaround of the station, Pilot Paul Lockhart fired a final separation burn of Endeavour’s engines at 11:15 a.m. and began its final departure from the station. The two spacecraft are now about 315 miles apart, with the gap widening by 40 miles every orbit.
Both crews will enjoy some well-deserved time off today to relax following a busy week of joint operations. Endeavour’s crew will go to sleep at 7:23 p.m. today, waking at 3:23 a.m. Sunday. The Expedition Five crew began an extended sleep period about 3 p.m., shifting over to its standard daily wakeup time of 1 a.m. on Sunday.
The focus of activities aboard Endeavour on Sunday will include a checkout of the systems that will be used during Monday’s planned landing at the Kennedy Space Center. Endeavour is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center just before noon Central time Monday, bringing Onufrienko, Bursch and Walz home after 194 days in space.
Aboard the station, Korzun, Whitson and Treschev will begin unpacking some of the supplies and equipment transferred from Endeavour and set up house for their planned 4 ½ month stay on the station. They are scheduled for about four hours of off-duty time Sunday.
The next STS-111 status report will be issued Sunday morning, or earlier, if events warrant.
- end -