Endeavour's astronauts said good-bye to the crew aboard the International Space Station at 9:51 a.m. CST today, closing the hatches between the two vehicles in preparation for undocking at 1:13 p.m.
Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Mike Bloomfield and Mission Specialists Marc Garneau, Joe Tanner and Carlos Noriega left behind Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, who still have three more months of space station living ahead of them.
Before closing the hatches over the northern portion of the Persian Gulf, the two crews completed final transfers of supplies being delivered to the station and used equipment along with other items that were removed from the station for return to Earth.
Endeavour and the STS-97 crew will perform a full fly-around of the station before firing the shuttle's thrusters to leave the vicinity of the station 240 statute miles above the Earth and begin heading for home.
The crew's wake-up call today was "Back in the Saddle Again," by Gene Autry in honor of Bloomfield, who is making his second space flight and his second fly-around of a space station. The first was STS-86, on which he steered Atlantis around the Russian Space Station Mir.
Canadian astronaut Garneau is scheduled to talk with John Manley, Canadian minister of foreign affairs and international trade, Mac Evans, Canadian Space Agency president, and elementary school children at the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa at 5:26 p.m. CST.
Before going to bed at 10:06 p.m. CST, the STS-97 crew will enjoy some off-duty time and adjust the shuttle's orbit to enable additional landing opportunities in Florida. Landing is scheduled for 5:04 p.m. CST Monday at Kennedy Space Center.
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