Shuttle crew prepares to undock from space station
June 3, 1999
HOUSTON (CNN) -- With their moving chores complete, the crew on Discovery turned out the lights and locked the doors of the International Space Station on Thursday and returned to their shuttle in preparation for undocking.
It took the astronauts about two hours to close the six hatches, sealing the last one at 4:44 a.m. EDT. Discovery Commander Kent Rominger then fired the shuttle's steering jets to raise the orbit of the station to put it in a better position for the planned rendezvous with the Russian service module, scheduled for launch in November.
The Discovery crew moved nearly two tons of supplies into the station during the past three days. The supplies were stashed in storage lockers and secured to the floors of the seven-story station with Velcro. The crew members gave the space station a thumbs up.
"It has a new car feel, spacious feel, there is a little light coming in from the background, from fans, it is truly a delightful working environment," said crew member Tammy Jernigan.
The astronauts also displayed some high-flying handiwork during their days in space. They replaced 18 balky battery charging devices linked to the batteries inside the Russian Zarya module.
And they fixed an off-the-rack transceiver designed to give flight controllers in Houston a direct communications link to the station. Without the link, all radio telemetry from the station must funnel through Moscow, where the station is being controlled during the early stages of construction.
With their work complete, the astronauts turned in for the night. They will awake at 3:50 p.m. EDT Thursday and go through the long checklist for the departure and fly-around procedure. Discovery was scheduled to undock from the station at 6:39 PM EDT) Thursday -- five and a half days after hooking up.
On their way home, the crew members will release the STARSHINE satellite, which looks like the mirrored globes that hang over dance floors. The astronauts will also be given some down time to relax and enjoy the view from the shuttle.
The STARSHINE satellite will be visible in the twilight and dawn sky for at least six months, allowing students all over the world to track and calculate its orbit.
Discovery is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday at 1:59 a.m. EDT.
Correspondent Miles O'Brien contributed to this report.
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