8 p.m. CDT Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-119 MCC Status Report #21
After 129 days aboard the International Space Station, astronaut Sandy Magnus is headed back to Earth along with the Discovery astronauts, who spent nearly 10 days docked to the station.

The 10 crew members gathered in the Harmony module at 11:53 a.m. for a farewell ceremony where ISS Commander Mike Fincke thanked the Discovery crew for an outstanding mission and giving the station more power and a new crew member, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. After shuttle Commander Lee Archambault led his crew back into Discovery, he and Fincke closed the hatches between their two vehicles at 12:59 p.m.

Discovery undocked from the ISS at 2:53 p.m. as springs pushed the shuttle out in front of the station. At a distance of 400 feet, Pilot Tony Antonelli circled the station as the shuttle’s crew and cameras captured the first look at the completed truss structure and the fourth set of solar array wings fully deployed.

At 4:09 p.m., the first of two separation burns was performed to move Discovery away from the station to start the journey home. The final separation burn occurred at 4:37 p.m.

If the STS-119 crew lands on the first opportunity on Saturday, 12:43 p.m. at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Magnus will have spent 134 days in space, and Discovery’s crew nearly 13 days in space.

Tomorrow, the crew will wake at 5:13 a.m. and perform a late inspection of Discovery’s thermal protection system using the shuttle robotic arm and the Orbital Boom Sensor System around 9:28 a.m. This procedure will last for approximately five hours before the OBSS and arm are then berthed in Discovery’s payload bay around 2:43 p.m.

Also Thursday, Expedition 19 Commander Gennady Padalka, Flight Engineer Michael Barratt and spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi are on target for a Soyuz launch at 6:49 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They will dock with station Saturday as Discovery ends its STS-119 mission.

The next status report will be issued after wake up, or earlier if events warrant.

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