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STS-108 Mission Status Report #21


STS-108   Report # 21 
 Saturday, Dec. 15, 2001 - 6 p.m. CST 
 After eight days together, Endeavour and the International Space Station
parted ways today, the shuttle leaving behind a new station crew and
ferrying home a veteran station crew.

Endeavour undocked from the station at 11:28 a.m. CST as the spacecraft
flew 240 statute miles above the Indian Ocean off the Australian coast.
Pilot Mark Kelly flew Endeavour through a half-circle of the station
before firing jets to leave the vicinity.

Before undocking, Endeavour's jets were fired in a series of small pulses
beginning at 8:55 a.m. CST to raise the altitude of the station about
three quarters of a mile. The maneuver ensures the station will fly well
clear of an old Russian rocket body that had been predicted to
potentially pass close to the complex later this weekend. The final small
reboost by the shuttle, coupled with three larger reboosts done earlier
in the week, means the station was raised a total of more than nine
statute miles by Endeavour.

The new station crew, Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko and
Flight Engineers Dan Bursch and Carl Walz, said goodbye to Endeavour's
crew and the departing Expedition Three crew and closed hatches between
the spacecraft at 7:16 a.m. CST. Now en route home, Expedition Three
Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer
Mikhail Tyurin completed 117 days as the primary station crew and spent
125 days aboard the station overall. When Endeavour lands on Monday, they
will have spent a total of 129 days in space.

The crew members aboard Endeavour had several hours off duty after
departing the station, a break from a very busy pace moving tons of
supplies between the shuttle and station during the past week. Sunday's
activities will focus on checking out systems used during descent and
making preparations for a landing on Monday. Endeavour is set to land at
the Kennedy Space Center, FL, about 11:28 a.m. CST Monday. The weather
forecast predicts generally acceptable conditions except for a chance of
rain showers in the vicinity of the landing site. Flight controllers
determined today that all three Inertial Measurement Units on Endeavour,
the primary navigation systems for the shuttle, would be usable for
landing. One of the three units had been taken off line two days ago due
to a brief fault. However, the unit has worked well since that time. Even
if the problem were to recur, it would not affect Endeavour's entry and
landing since the shuttle can operate with only one such unit if n!
ecessary. Endeavour's crew will begin a sleep period at 7:19 p.m. CST and
awaken at 3:19 a.m. CST Sunday. The Johnson Space Center newsroom will
open at 5 a.m. CST Sunday, and the next Mission Control status report
will be issued at about 6 a.m. CST Sunday or as events warrant.

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