Atlantis will leave the International Space Station today after a successful mission to bring the centerpiece of the station’s main truss to the orbiting laboratory and four successful spacewalks to connect and outfit it.
Farewells and closing of the hatches between the spacecraft is set to begin about 10:30 a.m. About 1:30 p.m., Atlantis astronaut Jerry Ross will send commands to release the docking mechanism. The initial separation will be provided by springs that will gently push the shuttle away from the station. When Atlantis is about two feet away from the station and the docking devices are clear of one another, Pilot Steve Frick will fire Atlantis’ steering jets to begin slowly moving away.
About 45 minutes after undocking, when Atlantis is 450 feet away, Frick will fly the shuttle around the station 1¼ times. The flyaround is set to begin at 2:16 p.m. and will last about an hour. Atlantis will move directly over the station, then behind it, underneath it, and back in front, where the flyaround began. The last quarter-circle brings the shuttle directly above the station. Finally, Frick will fire Atlantis’ jets to move away from the station about 3:15 p.m. Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center at 11:26 a.m. CDT Friday.
Atlantis leaves behind the newly installed S-Zero (S0) Truss, the first part of the main truss that will support cooling and power systems essential for the addition of future international laboratories to the station. All of the S0 systems have been operating well since its attachment to the station’s U.S. laboratory Destiny on Thursday.
The shuttle also delivered additional supplies and science experiments for the station crew to work with during its final weeks on the station. The Expedition Four crew – Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch – is scheduled to return to Earth aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in June.
The Atlantis crew – Commander Mike Bloomfield, Frick, Mission Specialists Ellen Ochoa, Rex Walheim, Steve Smith, Lee Morin, and Ross– was awakened at 3:44 a.m. to “Noah,” performed by Frick when he was a teen-ager. The station crew was awakened at 4:14 a.m.
The next STS-110 mission status report will be issued this evening, or earlier if events warrant.
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