With all of their transfer activities complete, Endeavour’s astronauts said goodbye to the Mir 24 cosmonauts, including U.S. astronaut Andy Thomas, and closed the hatches between the shuttle and the Russian station to set the stage for tomorrow’s undocking of Endeavour from the orbiting outpost.
After the crew completed the transfer of more than 8,000 pounds of scientific equipment, logistical hardware and water from Endeavour to the Mir and from the Mir to Endeavour for return to Earth, the hatches swung shut between the two craft at 4:34 p.m. Central time, leaving Thomas behind with his new Commander, Anatoly Solovyev, and Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov for the start of his four-month research mission.
Among the transfer items were 16 bags containing about 1,600 pounds of water for use by the cosmonauts over the next few months.
As the hatches closed between Endeavour and the Mir, Russian space officials prepared a Soyuz booster rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for tomorrow’s launch of the Mir 25 crew to the Russian station to replace Solovyev and Vinogradov.
Mir 25 Commander Talgat Musabayev, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and French researcher Leopold Eyharts are scheduled to blast off in a Soyuz TM-27 capsule at 10:33 a.m. Central time (9:33 p.m. Baikonur time), just 23 minutes before the scheduled undocking of Endeavour from the Mir at 10:56 a.m. Central time.
Musabayev and Budarin will become Thomas’ new crewmates once their three-week handover is completed with Solovyev and Vinogradov. As Thomas settles in aboard Mir for his long-duration mission, Eyharts will conduct his own scientific research for CNES, the French space agency. He will return to Earth with Solovyev and Vinogradov on February 19.. The Mir 25 crew is scheduled to dock to the outpost at 12:13 p.m. Central time on Saturday, just a few hours before the scheduled landing of Endeavour.
Endeavour’s astronauts are scheduled to begin an eight-hour sleep period at 8:48 p.m. Central time and are scheduled to be awakened at 4:48 a.m. Thursday to begin undocking preparations.
The Endeavour-Mir space complex is orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 216 nautical miles with all systems functioning in excellent shape.
The next STS-89 status report will be issued at 6 a.m. Central time Thursday morning.
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