They'd been next-door neighbors since last Saturday, but they didn't get to meet face-to-face in space until Friday morning.
The crews of the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Endeavour opened the last hatch separating them at 8:36 a.m. Space station commander Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev greeted the Endeavour astronauts, Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Mike Bloomfield and Mission Specialists Marc Garneau, Carlos Noriega and Joe Tanner, with handshakes.
The two crews had remained separated because the pressure aboard Endeavour had been reduced to help prepare Tanner and Noriega for their space walks.
The solar arrays they helped get ready for deployment and later repaired are functioning well. Systems aboard the space station are working well and Endeavour is performing almost perfectly.
"It has been a great mission," lead shuttle flight director Bill Reeves said at a Friday briefing. All objectives already have been accomplished, he said, except for the fly around of the space station by Endeavour after the Saturday undocking.
The eight crew members worked together to transfer equipment and supplies between the two spacecraft, and take refuse from the station aboard Endeavour for return to Earth. They did structural tests of the station and its solar arrays. They also finished setting up and checking out a TV system. Tanner and Noriega installed a cable for that system Thursday during their third space walk. The system will help a shuttle crew attach the U.S. laboratory Destiny to the station during a January mission.
Both crews held a news conference beginning at 3:57 p.m. Friday. They spoke live with reporters at Johnson Space Center in Houston, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and at Canadian Space Agency headquarters near Montreal. Immediately afterwards they talked with the Discovery Channel.
The space station crew was scheduled to go to bed about 6 p.m. and wake up at 2:36 a.m. on Saturday. The shuttle crew will begin its sleep period about 10 p.m. and be awakened at 6:06 a.m. Saturday. Endeavour is scheduled to undock from the space station at 1:13 p.m. Saturday and, after the flyaround of the ISS, begin final separation at 2:17 p.m.
The next STS-97 status report will be issued Saturday morning.
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