Thirteen humans are circling the globe simultaneously in three separate space vehicles today after a busy Thursday in which two of the ships parted company after four days of flying in tandem and a third was launched from the steppes of Khazakstan. After a good night's sleep, the crew of Endeavour awakened at 6:48 a.m. today to the sounds of George Thorougood's "Bad to the Bone," a favorite of Pilot Joe Edwards, and began strapping down the last of the equipment and experiment samples transferred from Mir for the return to Earth.
One of the key transfer items, Mission Specialist Dave Wolf, began preparing himself for the return to Earth after what will have been 128 days in orbit. Aboard Mir, U.S. Astronaut Andy Thomas began settling in to his new home as his three new crew mates, who comprise of Mir 25 crew Commander Talgat Musabayev, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and French researcher Leopold Eyharts, began their journey from the planet's surface.
About 6:50 a.m., Mir 24 Commander Anatoly Solovyev and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov undocked a Progress resupply vessel to make room for the advancing Soyuz TM-27 capsule, scheduled to arrive at 12:13 p.m. CST Saturday. Solovyev, Vinogradov and French researcher Eyharts are scheduled to return to Earth on Feb. 19. Interviewers from the Associated Press and ABC Radio will interview the entire Endeavour crew at 2:13 p.m. CST today.
The weather forecast for Saturday's scheduled 4:35 p.m. CST landing at the Kennedy Space Center continues to call for clear skies and favorable winds. Mission managers have elected not to call up landing support at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Endeavour is orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes at an altitude of about 240 miles with all of its systems working well.
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