November 04, 2007
A Tearful Farewell
Yesterday's successful repair of the torn solar panel on the P6 truss rocketed the combined crew of the ISS and shuttle mission STS-120 to an emotional high that has not come down yet. Presented with an unprecedented challenge, the crew in orbit and the team on the ground combined to accomplish something that has never been done before in space: an unanticipated, unplanned-for repair of a major station component. If the repair had not been successful, it is quite possible that the station might never have been built out to its complete configuration. The crew is justifiably exultant.
Today, in a ceremony that showed just how much the crews of the ISS and STS-120 had bonded, there was a lot of emotion expressed and a lot of support all around. This is an experience that these people will never forget, and I am sure that they will all be close friends for life, based on what they have gone through together.
Clay Anderson was formally transferred to the STS-120 crew and Dan Tani was formally transferred to the ISS crew. At the end there were tears and a lot of hugging all around. Finally, the STS-120 crew floated into the shuttle and closed the hatch. Once the hatch was dogged tight, the ISS seemed strangely empty. The three ISS crew members were now knocking around in a space that had previously held ten. With the addition of the Harmony module, the ISS is bigger than ever. With a functioning P6 solar array, it will be ready for the next shuttle mission, which will carry the Columbus module.
The Shuttle crew has a few more tasks to perform before they can say that their job is done:
1. Undock from the ISS.
2. Perform a 360 degree fly-around of the station, paying special attention to how the P6 solar array looks.
3. Perform a final inspection of the shuttle’s heat protection system, to make sure that there is nothing that would prevent a successful reentry.
4. Stow the robot arm and close the payload bay doors.
5. Perform a deorbit burn.
6. Fly to a safe landing at the Kennedy Space Center.
7. Kiss the ground and reunite with loved ones.
Posted by allen.taylor at November 4, 2007 10:37 PM