Reiter starts journey home
ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter started his journey back to Earth yesterday evening when Space Shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station. Reiter spent a total of 166 days living on the orbiting outpost.
In a short farewell ceremony ISS Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria made Reiter an honorary member of the NASA astronaut corps.
Before pinning some German Air Force wings modified with the NASA astronaut emblem on to Reiter's shirt, Lopez-Alegria said "I have been in space with thirty-two different people, and I don't think any of them displayed a greater combination of competence, conscientiousness and consistency as you. I think you are a model astronaut."
The STS-116 Shuttle crew said their farewells to the ISS Expedition 14 crew, shortly before hatches between the two spacecraft were closed at 20:42 CET (19:42 UT).
Following leak checks, Discovery undocked from the Space Station at 23:10 CET (22:10 UT), starting the three-day return journey.
The Space Shuttle is scheduled to touch down on the runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, at 21:56 CET (20:56 UT) on Friday.