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ISS/Shuttle Sep



Saturday December 9 2:17 PM ET
      Endeavour Leaves Space Station

      By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

      CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Space shuttle Endeavour flew away from

      space station Alpha on Saturday, leaving behind powerful solar
wings that
      already have improved life on the orbiting outpost.

      The station's three residents watched as Endeavour and its crew of
five
      undocked more than 230 miles above central Asia. They won't have
any
      more visitors until late next month, when another shuttle arrives.

      Their farewell, after just one day together, included hearty
handshakes and
      hugs. The two spacecraft were linked for one week, but the hatches
between
      them had remained sealed until Friday.

      ``Do svidanya,'' a shuttle astronaut called out. (That's Russian
for goodbye.)
      ``See you guys,'' replied one of the station's Russian crewmen.

      Navy Capt. Bill Shepherd, the station's skipper, and Navy Cmdr.
Brent Jett
      Jr., the shuttle's skipper, followed the same naval tradition that
they observed
      when the Endeavour crew came aboard on Friday.

      Jett requested permission to depart Alpha, which Shepherd granted.
As Jett
      saluted and disappeared into a tunnel leading to the shuttle,
Shepherd rang a
      ship's bell and called out: ``Endeavour departing.''

      Before the shuttle astronauts left, Shepherd thanked them ``for
bringing us
      great new capability on board station Alpha.''

      ``Job well done,'' he said.

      Endeavour's astronauts spent almost all of last week installing
new
      electricity-generating solar wings on the international space
station and
      working on wing repairs.

      The right wing ended up too slack after it jerked open, and two
spacewalking
      astronauts had to go out and tighten two loose tension cables.

      Their handiwork left Alpha with two perfectly taut solar wings,
spanning 240
      feet from tip to tip and 38 feet wide. The wings already were
providing more
      than 40 kilowatts of badly needed electricity for the space
station.

      Shepherd and cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev could
not
      enter the station's spacious Unity module until Endeavour
delivered the solar
      wings, one month into their four-month stay. The module had been
closed
      because there wasn't enough power to heat it.

      There also wasn't enough power to run all the station equipment
all the time.

      Between the power constraints and the mad rush to prepare for
Endeavour's
      arrival, Shepherd said the crew's first five weeks aboard the
space station
      were ``challenging.'' He and his crewmates worked long hours and
had
      hardly any free time.

      ``It's easy to second-guess and say, `Well, things could have gone
better,' ''
      Shepherd said Friday evening. ``But I think the progress has been
really
      outstanding and I'm hoping it's going to get a lot better.''

      Shepherd and his crew are supposed to return to Earth in late
February.
      Endeavour is due back on Monday.

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