3 p.m. CST Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-129 MCC Status Report #17
HOUSTON – Atlantis and International Space Station crew members closed the hatches linking their two spacecraft at 12:12 p.m. CST in preparation for the shuttle’s undocking and return home.

The two have been docked since 10:51 a.m. last Wednesday and hatches opened at 12:28 p.m. that day. The crews were linked through open hatches for 5 days, 23 hours and 44 minutes.

Atlantis brought to the station more than 14 tons of cargo, including two large carriers with heavy spare parts and installed them. The shuttle also carried about a ton of cargo in its crew cabin. It is bringing home about the same weight of cabin cargo from the orbiting laboratory. Atlantis astronauts did three spacewalks at the station.

Commander Charles Hobaugh, Pilot Barry Wilmore and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman, Robert Satcher Jr. and Nicole Stott used their first hour separated from the station crew to get ready for undocking. They checked out rendezvous tools and set up a centerline camera. Undocking is scheduled for 3:53 a.m. Wednesday.

Stott is returning to Earth after more than 90 days in space, including 87 days on the station, 80 of them as a member of the Expedition 20 and 21 crews.

On the station side, Expedition 21 Commander Jeffrey Williams and Flight Engineers Maxim Suraev, Roman Romanenko, Robert Thirsk and Frank De Winne remain.

Before separating the two crews took questions from reporters at NASA facilities, Mission Control Moscow, and from Canadian and French reporters.

At 9 a.m., shortly after a joint crew photo, De Winne handed over command of the station to Williams. De Winne, Romanenko and Thirsk are scheduled to leave the station for return to Earth in a Soyuz capsule on Nov. 30.

Just after the change of command ceremony, Atlantis crew members began a two-hour, off-duty period. The hatch closure was preceded by a farewell ceremony of the two crews. Atlantis’ first landing opportunity is at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:44 a.m. Friday. The next shuttle status report will be issued after crew wakeup or earlier if events warrant.

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