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Atlantis Prepares for Undocking

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:18 am via: source
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(NASA) – The STS-129 and Expedition 21 crew members prepared to part ways Tuesday. After a farewell ceremony, the crews closed the hatches that divide the two spacecraft at 1:12 p.m. EST in preparation for undocking Wednesday.

Atlantis is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Friday.

The STS-129 and Expedition 21 crew members are gathered aboard the International Space Station for a farewell ceremony. Photo credit: NASA TV

The STS-129 and Expedition 21 crew members are gathered aboard the International Space Station for a farewell ceremony. Photo credit: NASA TV

Earlier, the STS-129 crew joined Expedition 21 Commander Frank De Winne and his crew when he ceremonially handed over his command of Expedition 21 to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams. Williams also will command Expedition 22, which will begin at the time Expedition 21 undocks from the station Monday night.

De Winne, who is the first European Space Agency commander of the station, became commander on Oct. 9. He and Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk are set to depart the station on a Soyuz on Nov. 30 leaving Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev to await the next crew.

The STS-129 mission focused on the storage of spare hardware on the exterior of the station. The 11-day flight includes three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the station’s truss, or backbone. The platforms will hold spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired. This equipment is large and can only be transported using the unique capability of the shuttle.

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