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STS-116 MCC Status Report #21



7 p.m. CST Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas


STS-116 MCC Status Report #21

Crews aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space 
Station bid one another farewell at 4:10 p.m. CST today, wrapping up 
eight days of docked operations.

Staying behind on the newly rewired space station were Expedition 14 
Flight Engineer Sunita Williams, and departing with Discovery’s crew was 
Thomas Reiter, a European Space Agency astronaut on his way home after a 
six-month space voyage.

Expedition 14 Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail 
Tyurin rang the ship’s bell in Navy fashion and saluted the shuttle and 
crew as they departed. “From the crew of Discovery – we wish you smooth 
sailing – thank you for the hard work, and we hope you enjoy the new 
electrical system on the station,” STS-116 Commander Mark Polansky 
radioed back from a distance of 650 feet during a half-lap fly-around.

Pilot Bill Oefelein was at the controls for the fly-around, which gave 
Discovery’s crew a look at its handiwork, a new P5 spacer truss segment 
and a fully retracted P6 solar array wing. During 7 days, 23 hours and 
58 minutes of docked operations, the combined crew installed the newest 
piece of the station’s backbone and completely rewired the station’s 
power grid over the course of four spacewalks.

Before the hatches closed at 1:42 p.m., Mission Specialist Joan 
Higginbotham and her cargo team had transferred more than two tons of 
food, water and equipment for use by the Expedition 14 crew and its 
newest member. They also filled Discovery’s pressurized cargo carrier 
with equipment and experiment samples returning to Earth.

Discovery fired its orbital maneuvering system engines to finish 
separation from the station at 6:12 p.m., bound for a landing at Kennedy 
Space Center in Florida at 2:56 p.m. Friday, weather permitting.

On Wednesday, Polansky, Oefelein and Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick 
will use the shuttle’s robotic arm and the Orbiter Boom Sensor System to 
inspect Discovery’s heat shield for damage from orbiting debris or 
micrometeoroids. Spacewalkers Robert Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang will 
work with Higginbotham and Reiter to stow equipment and supplies used 
during the mission in preparation for landing.

The next STS-116 status report will be issued Wednesday morning or 
earlier if events warrant.

- end -

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