Endeavour’s astronauts are preparing to bid Mir farewell this morning with a successful crew transfer and the exchange of more than 8,000 pounds of equipment and supplies behind them.
U.S. Astronaut Andy Thomas will remain behind for four months of research on the Russian outpost, the swan song of the Phase 1 Program leading up to construction and population of the International Space Station. Coming home will be Dave Wolf, who spent 119 days aboard Mir and will have chalked up 128 days in orbit by the time he returns to Earth aboard Endeavour on Saturday.
Undocking is scheduled for 10:56 a.m. CST today, just 23 minutes after the next Russian crew -- Mir 25 Commander Talgat Musabayev, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and French researcher Leopold Eyharts -- is scheduled to blast off in a Soyuz TM-27 capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Khazakstan. Musbayev and Budarin will dock with the station Saturday and replace Mir 24 Commander Anatoly Solovey and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov, who are scheduled to return to Earth on Feb. 19 with Eyharts.
Once the shuttle is free of its moorings, Commander Terry Wilcutt and Pilot Joe Edwards will fly around the space station before completing a separation burn at 12:16 p.m. CST to move Endeavour away from Mir.
The Endeavour crew was awakened at 4:48 a.m. today to the song "Here We Go Loopty-Loo," by Little Richard, played in honor of the STS-89 training team in Houston..
The Endeavour-Mir space complex is orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 240 statute miles with all systems in excellent shape.
The next STS-89 status report will be issued at 6 p.m. CST today.
- end -