Discovery starts journey home

View of the International Space Station following undocking of Discovery
8 September 2009

Space Shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station at 21:26 CEST (19:26 UT) this evening as the two spacecraft flew over western China.

Shuttle commander Rick Sturckow, Pilot Kevin Ford and mission specialists, Patrick Forrester, Jose Hernandez, John Olivas, and ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang, are returning to Earth with Discovery after completing nearly nine days of joint operations with the Station crew.

NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra is also returning to Earth as part of the STS-128 crew. He was replaced as a member of the ISS Expedition 20 crew by Nicole Stott who flew on the upward leg of Discovery’s mission.

Joint portrait STS-128 and ISS Expedition 20 crews
The two crews completed nearly nine days of joint operations

Once safely separated from the orbiting complex, the STS-128 crew conducted a flyaround of the Station. A final separation burn is expected at 23:09 CEST (21:09 UT).

Later, the crew will use the Shuttle’s robotic arm, its extension boom and cameras for a last look at Discovery’s thermal protection system to check for any damage ahead of reentry through Earth’s atmosphere.

Discovery is set to touchdown at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 01:05 CEST (23:05 UT, 10 September) on Friday 11 September.

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