Discovery starts journey home

A view of the Earth from on board the International Space Station
20 December 2006

The Celsius Mission is nearing its end as Space Shuttle Discovery successfully undocked from the International Space Station at 23:10 CET (22:10 UT) last night, ending an eight-day visit.

In a short farewell ceremony the Shuttle crew, including ESA astronauts Christer Fuglesang and Thomas Reiter, bid farewell to the Station's Expedition 14 crew before entering the Space Shuttle. The hatches between the two spacecraft were closed at 20:42 CET (19:42 UT).

Fuglesang and Curbeam with EVA suits
Christer Fuglesang and Robert Curbeam inside the Quest airlock with the American EVA suits

Following undocking, a partial fly-around of the Station complex gave the Shuttle crew the first views of the orbiting laboratory in its latest configuration, with its new P5 truss segment and the fully retracted P6 solar array.

Today the Shuttle crew will perform an inspection of Discovery's heat shield, checking for any damage from orbiting debris or micrometeoroids. Other tasks ahead of the return to Earth include the stowage of equipment and supplies used during the mission.

Weather permitting, Discovery is scheduled to land at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, at 21:56 CET (20:56 UT) on Friday 22 December.

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