Spaceflight Now: STS-97 Mission Report



BY JUSTIN RAY

December 11, 2000 -- Follow the four-month mission of first resident crew of the international space station as well as the STS-97 flight of space shuttle Endeavour to deliver the first solar array module to the orbiting outpost. Reload this page for the very latest.

0100 GMT (8:00 p.m. EST, Mon.)

The space shuttle Endeavour glided to a smooth Florida touchdown Monday just minutes after the international space station sailed overhead, closing out a successful flight to equip the outpost with the most powerful solar arrays ever launched. Read our landing story for a full wrap up of Endeavour's 11-day flight and the latest on the solid rocket booster inspections that could delay the next shuttle launch.

0050 GMT (7:50 p.m. EST)

We have also posted a video clip from an infrared tracking camera near the runway that shows the glowing hot Endeavour during landing.

0034 GMT (7:34 p.m. EST)

Endeavour's astronauts have completed the traditional walkaround of the spaceship on the runway and are now headed back to the Crew Quarters for the night. The shuttle is scheduled to be towed from the runway to a hangar at Kennedy Space Center in about two hours. Endeavour's next flight is scheduled for April.

0014 GMT (7:14 p.m. EST)

We have also posted a video clip from the "pilot's point of view" onboard camera that shows what commander Brent Jett saw during today's landing.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2000
2354 GMT (6:54 p.m. EST)


All five of Endeavour's astronauts have left the shuttle. They are currently inside the motorized Crew Transport Vehicle. It is expected that at least some of the astronauts will make the traditional walkaround of the shuttle on the runway shortly. Later, the crew will head to Kennedy Space Center's Operations & Checkout Building to be reunited with their families and have dinner. They will be spending the night in Florida before returning to their homes in Houston tomorrow.

2347 GMT (6:47 p.m. EST)

We have posted a video clip of today's landing.

2340 GMT (6:40 p.m. EST)

The Crew Transport Vehicle -- a modified airport "People Mover" -- has pulled into position next to Endeavour's crew hatch. The CTV features beds and comfortable seats for the astronauts to receive medical checks and get their balance after returning to Earth's gravity from the weightless environment of space. The crew is expected to climb out of the shuttle over the next 15 minutes.

2321 GMT (6:21 p.m. EST)

Post-landing chores continue for the astronauts to configure the shuttle after their homecoming. The main engine nozzles have been moved to the "rain drain" position, the external tank umbilical doors have been opened, the shuttle's onboard computers have transitioned to the post-landing software package and Endeavour's three Auxiliary Power Units are being shut down. Also, Mission Control has told the crew they can now remove their launch and entry space suits if so desired.

2315 GMT (6:15 p.m. EST)

Here are the preliminary landing times in Eastern Standard Time and Mission Elapsed Time:

Main Gear Touchdown
6:03:25 p.m. EST
MET: 10 days, 19 hours, 57 minutes, 25 seconds

Nose Gear Touchdown
6:03:34 p.m. EST
MET: 10 days, 19 hours, 57 minutes, 34 seconds

Wheels Stop
6:04:20 p.m. EST
MET: 10 days, 19 hours, 58 minutes, 20 seconds

2309 GMT (6:09 p.m. EST)

The astronauts are going through standard post-landing safing of Endeavour.

2304 GMT (6:04 p.m. EST)

WHEELS STOP. Endeavour has rolled to a stop at Kennedy Space Center, bringing to an end its 15th flight into space.

2304 GMT (6:04 p.m. EST)

TOUCHDOWN! Main gear touchdown. Drag chute deployed. Nose gear touchdown. Space shuttle Endeavour rolls out on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center to complete a successful 4.4-million mission that spread the power-generating solar wings of the international space station.

2303 GMT (6:03 p.m. EST)

Landing gear down and locked. Standing by for touchdown on Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15.

2302 GMT (6:02 p.m. EST)

Field in sight. Commander Jett can see the runway as he pilots Endeavour to the 16th nighttime landing in shuttle program history.

2301 GMT (6:01 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is in the heading alignment cylinder, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 15. Brent Jett will make a 256-degree left-overhead turn. Altitude under 40,000 feet.

2300 GMT (6:00 p.m. EST)

Commander Brent jett has taken manual control of Endeavour. The sonic booms have been heard at KSC, announcing the shuttle's arrival. Speed currently 570 miles per hour, 22 miles to landing.

2259 GMT (5:59 p.m. EST)

Now five minutes from landing at the Kennedy Space Center. Drag chute deployment will be per the normal plan. Mission Control predicts the shuttle will touch down at 195 knots some 2,700 feet down the runway. The surface winds are from 140 degrees at 7 peaking to 9 knots.

2258 GMT (5:58 p.m. EST)

Endeavour's wings are leveling out.

2257 GMT (5:57 p.m. EST)

Now seven minutes to landing. Altitude is 88,000 feet, speed 1,800 miles per hour as Endeavour streaks above Central Florida.

2256 GMT (5:56 p.m. EST)

Air data probes have been deployed from the shuttle's nose to feed air speed and altitude information to the computers for navigation.

2255 GMT (5:55 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is now banking back to the left, the final speed-reducing turn. Altitude is 21 miles, speed 3,100 mph and distance to the runway is 156 miles.

2254 GMT (5:54 p.m. EST)

Endeavour nearing the coast of Florida with 10 minutes remaining to touchdown. Altitude now 26 miles, speed 4,200 miles per hour.

2253 GMT (5:53 p.m. EST)

Endeavour now banking back to right. This is the third of four turns to reduce speed. Altitude is currently 28 miles. Distance to the runway is 300 miles.

2252 GMT (5:52 p.m. EST)

The TACAN navigation units aboard Endeavour are now receiving data from beacons located at the runway at Kennedy Space Center. Now 12 minutes to landing.

2250 GMT (5:50 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is now above the Gulf of Mexico just west of Cuba. The shuttle's speed has dropped to 7,300 miles per hour. The shuttle continues in its left-bank to scrub off speed.

2249 GMT (5:49 p.m. EST)

Now 15 minutes to touchdown. At the time of landing, the international space station will be flying above the Atlantic Ocean a couple of hundred miles off the coast of Virginia.

2248 GMT (5:48 p.m. EST)

Endeavour's speed is currently 11,000 mph, altitude is 37 miles, range to touchdown is 930 miles.

2247 GMT (5:47 p.m. EST)

The shuttle's thrusters used for pitch have been disabled with the aerosurfaces now being used for this control.

2246 GMT (5:46 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is now making landfall over Central America. Speed is currently 13,400 mph, altitude is 41 miles.

2245 GMT (5:45 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is beginning the first roll reversal. The shuttle rolling from its bank to right to a left-hand bank.

2244 GMT (5:44 p.m. EST)

Now 20 minutes until landing. Endeavour's speed is currently 14,800 mph, altitude is 43 miles, range to the runway is 1,850 miles.

Landing today will occur on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center -- the northwest to southeast strip of the Shuttle Landing Facility. Upon arrival at the heading alignment circle in skies over KSC, commander Brent Jett will make a 256-degree left-overhead turn to align Endeavour with the runway. Touchdown is expected at 6:04 p.m. EDT (2304 GMT).

The Shuttle Landing Facility was built in 1975. It is 300 feet wide and 15,000 feet long with 1,000-foot overruns at each end. The strip is located about three miles northwest of the 525-foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building.

2241 GMT (5:41 p.m. EST)

The roll control jets on the shuttle are being turned off and the aerosurfaces on the spacecraft now able to be used as the vehicle continues descent into the atmosphere. All the wing flaps will be active shortly with the exception of the rudder, which won't be useful until the shuttle slows to Mach 5.

2237 GMT (5:37 p.m. EST)

The space shuttle is currently in the first of four steep banks to scrub off speed as it plunges into the atmosphere. This is a 75-degree roll to the right. These turns basically remove the energy Endeavour built up during launch. Mission Control is out of communications with the shuttle during the roll maneuver due to heating conditions and the angle of antennas on the shuttle facing away from NASA's orbiting Tracking and Data Relay Satellites.

2235 GMT (5:35 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is currently at altitude of 54 miles with a speed over 17,050 miles per hour.

2232 GMT (5:32 p.m. EST)

The protective tiles on the belly of Endeavour are now feeling heat beginning to build as the orbiter enters the top fringes of the atmosphere -- a period known as Entry Interface. The shuttle is flying with its nose elevated 40 degrees, wings level, at an altitude of 400,000 feet, passing over the Pacific Ocean, about 4,300 nautical miles from the landing site, at a velocity of Mach 25, descending at a rate of 500 feet per second. Touchdown is set for 6:04 p.m. EST on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

2228 GMT (5:28 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is about five minutes away from hitting the upper fringes of the atmosphere for today's reentry. Altitude currently 100 miles. Landing on target for 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

2223 GMT (5:23 p.m. EST)

Altitude now 141 miles as Endeavour descends towards the atmosphere.

2219 GMT (5:19 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is now 170 miles above the South Pacific. Time until touchdown is 45 minutes.

All three Auxiliary Power Units are running to supply pressure to the shuttle's hydraulic systems, which in turn move Endeavour's aerosurfaces and deploy the landing gear. One unit was started prior to the deorbit burn; the others just a few moments ago. The units are only activated during the launch and landing phases of the shuttle mission.

2210 GMT (5:10 p.m. EST)

Endeavour continues its free fall towards the Earth's upper atmosphere. The shuttle is currently 217 miles above the planet as it cruises south of Australia.

2206 GMT (5:06 p.m. EST)

Commander Brent Jett is maneuvering Endeavour from its upside down, tail-forward position needed for the deorbit burn to the reentry configuration of heads-up and nose-forward. The nose also will be pitched upward 40 degrees. In this new position, the black tiles on the shuttle's belly will shield the spacecraft during the fiery plunge through the Earth's atmosphere with temperatures reaching 3,000 degrees F. Endeavour will begin interacting with the upper fringes of the atmosphere above the South Pacific.

The shuttle's track home is taking the craft above the Pacific Ocean on northeastward track towards Kennedy Space Center. The shuttle will make landfall above Central America before moving out over the Gulf of Mexico towards the United States. Endeavour will arrive over Florida just south of Tampa. Once in the vicinity of KSC, Commander Jett will perform a 256-dgree left-overhead turn to align with Runway 15 -- the northwest to southeast runway.

2200 GMT (5:00 p.m. EST)

DEORBIT BURN COMPLETE. Endeavour has successfully completed the deorbit burn, committing the shuttle for its journey back to Earth. Landing is scheduled for 6:04 p.m. EST on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Today's landing will be the 53rd to occur at Kennedy Space Center in the history of space shuttle program. It is the first since the 23 consecutive landing streak was broken in October when Discovery was diverted to Edwards Air Force Base in California. Dating back to May 1996, this will mark the 31st of the last 33 shuttle missions to land in Florida. KSC is the most used landing site for the shuttle. Edwards Air Force Base in California has seen 46 landings and White Sands in New Mexico supported one. This also will be the 16th night landing for a space shuttle and the 11th to occur at KSC.

2158 GMT (4:58 p.m. EST)

DEORBIT BURN IGNITION. Flying upside down and backwards 220 miles above the Indian Ocean, west of Indonesia, Endeavour has begun the deorbit burn. The firing of the two orbital maneuvering system engines on the tail of the shuttle will last two-minutes, 45-seconds, slowing the craft by 211 miles per hour, just enough to slip from orbit. The retro-burn will send Endeavour towards a touchdown at 6:04 p.m. EST on a runway just miles from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad where the shuttle lifted off 11 days ago.

2154 GMT (4:54 p.m. EST)

Pilot Mike Bloomfield has activated Auxiliary Power Unit No. 2 in advance of the deorbit burn, now five minutes away. The other two APUs will be started later in the descent to provide pressure needed to power shuttle's hydraulic systems that move the wing flaps, rudder/speed brake, drop the landing gear and steer the nose wheel. NASA ensures that at least one APU is working before committing to the deorbit burn since the shuttle only needs a single unit to make a safe landing.

2143 GMT (4:43 p.m. EST)

Endeavour has started maneuvers in space to the deorbit burn attitude. The shuttle will be flying upside-down and backwards with its tail pointed in the direction of travel. The upcoming burn, now 15 minutes away, will slow Endeavour below orbital velocity, allowing the craft to slip from space and begin the hour-long glide to a pin-point touchdown at 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT) at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

2137 GMT (4:37 p.m. EST)

GO FOR THE DEORBIT BURN! With acceptable weather at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Entry Flight Director Leroy Cain in Mission Control has given space shuttle Endeavour astronauts the "go" to perform the deorbit burn at 4:58 p.m. EST (2158 GMT).

The upcoming retrograde burn using the twin orbital maneuvering system engines on the tail of Endeavour will last two-minutes, 45-seconds to slow the shuttle's velocity by 210 miles per hour, just enough to slip the craft out of orbit and begin the plunge back into the atmosphere.

Endeavour is headed to a nighttime landing at 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT) on Runway 15 at KSC, about a half-hour after sunset. The landing will conclude the 11-day STS-97 mission to deliver supplies to the international space station.

The astronauts are deactivating the toilet, the shuttle's vent doors have been closed and final configuring of the onboard computers and a steering check of the orbital maneuvering system engine nozzles have been completed.

2130 GMT (4:30 p.m. EST)

Standing by for a final decision on this first landing opportunity of the day. Weather conditions currently are looking good at Kennedy Space Center.

2112 GMT (4:12 p.m. EST)

Pilot Mike Bloomfield is flipping switches in the cockpit to pre-start the shuttle's three Auxiliary Power Units used to drive the shuttle's hydraulics for moving the wing flaps, deploying the landing gear and steering the nose wheel upon touchdown.

2105 GMT (4:05 p.m. EST)

The astronauts aboard Endeavour report they have completed their deorbit preparation checklist and are now opening the entry timeline. The crew is now suited up in their day-glow orange launch and entry suits and will soon strap into their seats. Entry Flight Director Leroy Cain is about a half-hour away from making the call whether to allow Endeavour to land as scheduled today on the first opportunity at 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT).

2047 GMT (3:47 p.m. EST)

In a positive sign that Endeavour will be cleared for its homecoming today, Mission Control has told the astronauts to begin the "fluid loading" procedure in which each crew member drinks large amounts of liquids to aid in readapting to Earth's gravity. Flight controllers usually tells to the crew to hold off on "fluid loading" if the landing is likely to be delayed.

Astronaut Gus Loria in Mission Control radioed the shuttle crew and reported that weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center are currently observed and forecast "go" for a landing by Endeavour today at 6:04 p.m. EST.

Meteorologists are still watching for a chance of rain within 30 miles of the runway. There are some showers around Central Florida. Should any rain enter the 30-mile zone around KSC, Endeavour won't be cleared to drop from orbit.

Final approval for the landing will come just under an hour from now prior to the time of the deorbit burn at 4:58 p.m. EST.

2028 GMT (3:28 p.m. EST)

Now 90 minutes away from the deorbital burn by Endeavour's breaking rockets that will slow the shuttle by about 210 mph -- just enough to slip from orbit and begin the trek back to Earth. The astronauts are currently going through a list to verify switches in the shuttle's cockpit are in the correct positions. Soon the crew will put on their launch and entry partial pressure suits and then strap in over the course of the next hour.

1922 GMT (2:22 p.m. EST)

The shuttle's twin payload bay doors have been closed and latched in preparation for the shuttle's fiery plunge into the atmosphere and hour-long glide to a pin-point touchdown at Kennedy Space Center in Florida today at 2304 GMT (6:04 p.m. EST). The weather is being closely monitored with the threat of rain within 30 miles of the shuttle runway a concern. Should the showers prevent an on-time landing, forecasters are predicting the rain to move out of the area in time for the second landing opportunity at KSC today at 0040 GMT (7:40 p.m. EST).

The astronauts are now in the process of transitioning the shuttle's onboard computers from the in-orbit OPS-2 software to the OPS-3 software package that governs the shuttle's reentry and landing. Also the crew is maneuvering the shuttle into an attitude to improve the communications link with ground controllers.

1916 GMT (2:16 p.m. EST)

Endeavour's left payload bay door has been closed. The astronauts are now in the process of closing the right door.

1909 GMT (2:09 p.m. EST)

Mission Control has given the crew of Endeavour a "go" to close the 60-foot long payload bay doors of the shuttle as activities continue for today's entry and landing. The doors will be swung closed one at a time and then latches locked.

Over the past hour, the radiators on doors were stowed and the shuttle's flash evaporator system was activated to provide cooling for Endeavour during the remainder of its space flight. Also the three mission specialist seats on the flight deck and middeck of Endeavour were reinstalled. They are removed shortly after reaching orbit on launch day to provide additional room for the astronauts inside the shuttle's cramped crew module.

1758 GMT (12:58 p.m. EST)

The deorbit preparation timeline for the astronauts and Mission Control begins at this time. Over the next four hours the shuttle's the payload bay doors will be closed, onboard computers transitioned to entry software, the crew will suit up and strap into their seats and flight controllers will decide whether the weather conditions are acceptable. The deorbit burn to drop Endeavour from space is scheduled for 4:58 p.m. EST (2158 GMT) if weather at Kennedy Space Center cooperates. Touchdown would occur at 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT).

Mission Control was just given the latest weather forecast by the Spaceflight Meteorology Group in Houston. Overall the weather picture at Kennedy Space Center is somewhat marginal for the first of two landing opportunities in Florida today due to rain within 30 nautical miles. The forecast is more optimistic for the second landing opportunity an orbit later with touchdown at 7:40 p.m. EST (0040 GMT). The backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California is considered "go" with no concerns.

Should Endeavour not make it home today due to weather, conditions in Florida are expected to worsen on Tuesday. Edwards is forecast to have generally good conditions with gusty winds the only concern tomorrow.

The shuttle has enough consumables to remain aloft through Wednesday.

1315 GMT (8:15 a.m. EST)

The Endeavour astronauts were awakened at 8:06 a.m. to prepare for re-entry and landing this evening at the Kennedy Space Center. Appropriately enough, today's wakeup music was a recording of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" radioed up from mission control.

"And good morning Endeavour, it's a great day to be headed home," astronaut Shannon Lucid called from Houston.

"Good morning, Houston, thanks for the nice wakeup music," commander Brent Jett replied.

The astronauts will begin deorbit preparations in earnest at 1:06 p.m. and close the shuttle's cargo bay doors at 2:20 p.m. to set the stage for entry. Jett and pilot Michael Bloomfield plan to fire Endeavour's twin braking rockets at 4:58 p.m. for two minutes and 44 seconds, slowing the shuttle by 212 mph to drop it out of orbit.

Touchdown on runway 15 is targeted for 6:04 p.m. We have not yet received an updated forecast, but conditions are expected to be generally favorable with a slight chance of rain showers in the area.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2000
0501 GMT (12:01 a.m. EST)


Flush with success, the Endeavour astronauts tested the shuttle's re-entry systems and packed up Sunday for a landing Monday evening at the Kennedy Space Center to close out the 101st shuttle mission. Read our landing preview story.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2000
2330 GMT (6:30 p.m. EST)


Rollout of shuttle Atlantis to pad 39A to ready the ship for launch next month will be delayed at least two days -- from Monday to Wednesday -- because of ongoing work to determine why an explosive booster separation bolt failed to fire during the Endeavour's launch Nov. 30. Read our full story.

1325 GMT (8:25 a.m. EST)

The Endeavour astronauts were awakened at 7:06 a.m. to begin their final full day in space.

Commander Brent Jett, pilot Michael Bloomfield and flight engineer Marc Garneau are scheduled to fire up one of the orbiter's three hydraulic power units around 11:06 p.m. to test the ship's wing flaps, rudder and other entry systems. One hour later, at 12:16 p.m., they will fire all of Endeavour's reaction control system thrusters to verify they are ready for use as well.

A final set of media interviews is planned for 3:56 p.m. and cabin stowage will begin in earnest at 4:45 p.m. The shuttle's Ku-band television antenna is scheduled to be stowed at 7:46 p.m., ending downlink TV for the remainder of the mission.

Deorbit preparations will begin around 1:06 p.m. Monday for a landing back at the Kennedy Space Centger at 6:04 p.m. The current forecast from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at the Johnson Space Center in Houston calls for scattered clouds at 4,000 feet and 25,000 feet with winds from 130 degrees at six knots, peaking at 12 knots.

A briefing with entry flight director Leory Cain is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2000

With hugs and handshakes, the Endeavour astronauts bid farewell to the crew of space station Alpha Saturday, closed hatches between the two spacecraft and undocked to wind up an edge-of-the-seat mission to install a huge set of solar arrays. Read our full story.

2016 GMT (3:16 p.m. EST)

The final separation burn by Endeavour has been performed and the shuttle is now quickly departing the vicinity of the international space station.

The five astronauts will enjoy some off duty time to relax later today. Tomorrow will be spent packing up the crew cabin and checking out Endeavour's flight control aerosurfaces, hydraulics and steering jets in preparation for Monday's planned reentry and landing.

2015 GMT (3:15 p.m. EST)

The loop around the international space station by Endeavour has been completed with the shuttle having reached its starting point directly below the station. Distance between the two craft is currently about 580 feet. Endeavour's thrusters will now be fired to propel the shuttle away from the station's vicinity.

2002 GMT (3:02 p.m. EST)

The flyaround of the station by Endeavour continues smoothly. The shuttle is three-quarters of the way around the complex having reached a point directly behind the station's direction of travel.

1952 GMT (2:52 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is now directly above the international space station at a distance of nearly 500 feet. Endeavour has now complete half of its lap around the station.

1941 GMT (2:41 p.m. EST)

Endeavour is a quarter of the way through its loop around the station. The shuttle is now directly in front of the international space station.

1931 GMT (2:31 p.m. EST)

Under the control of pilot Mike Bloomfield, Endeavour is now beginning a complete flyaround of the international space station from a distance of about 450 feet. The shuttle is flying backwards with its tail in the direction of travel. The flyaround starts with the shuttle directly below the station, then takes Endeavour in front of the station, directly above it and then back to its starting point. This lap should take about 45 minutes to complete while the astronauts use multiple still and video cameras to document the 97-ton station's configuration with the new solar wings spread.

1929 GMT (2:29 p.m. EST)

The shuttle's opening rate has been slowed dramatically as Endeavour prepares to hit a stationkeeping point and then begin the flyaround.

1928 GMT (2:28 p.m. EST)

Endeavour's now over 400 feet from the station.

1923 GMT (2:23 p.m. EST)

Now 10 minutes since undocking. The shuttle is 235 feet away, moving at 0.6-feet per second.

1920 GMT (2:20 p.m. EST)

Distance between the two spacecraft now 150 feet.

1918 GMT (2:18 p.m. EST)

The total docked time for Endeavour to the international space station was six days and 23 hours. Undocking occurred at altitude of about 235 statute miles above the Kazakh-Chinese boarder.

1917 GMT (2:17 p.m. EST)

The shuttle is now 80 feet from the station. After reaching a point about 400 feet away, Endeavour will begin a flyaround of the station.

1915 GMT (2:15 p.m. EST)

Endeavour continues to back away from the international space station with over 30 feet already separating the two craft. The shuttle is moving downward and towards Earth from the Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 docking port on the Unity node. Station commander Bill Shepherd reports there were no rates imparted into the complex from the shuttle's departure.

1913 GMT (2:13 p.m. EST)

UNDOCKING! "Houston, we have physical separation," pilot Mike Bloomfield reports.

Space shuttle Endeavour has departed the international space station after a successful mission that saw the 17-ton P6 solar array truss added to the orbiting complex. Stretching 240 feet tip-to-tip, the solar wings have quintupled the available electrical power aboard the station, making it the most powerful spacecraft in orbit.

Over the past week docked to the station, the shuttle astronauts also conducted three spacewalks and transferred equipment, supplies, fresh food and Christmas gifts to the Expedition One crew living aboard the international space station.

The next shuttle to visit the station is scheduled for launch on January 18 when Atlantis blasts off with the U.S. Destiny science laboratory.

1911 GMT (2:11 p.m. EST)

The command has been issued to begin driving open the hooks holding Endeavour and station together.

1903 GMT (2:03 p.m. EST)

Now 10 minutes from Endeavour's undocking from the international space station, completing a seven-day visit.

1858 GMT (1:58 p.m. EST)

Endeavour's crew was just told that both the space shuttle and international space station flight control teams are "go" for undocking.

1855 GMT (1:55 p.m. EST)

After hooks and latches holding the shuttle and station together are released, large springs will push the two craft apart. Once there is a few feet of separation, pilot Mike Bloomfield will fire Endeavour's jet thrusters to back the shuttle some 400 feet away from the station. A tail-first, full-circle flyaround of the space station then will commence by the shuttle so the astronauts can document the orbiting outpost using a variety of cameras onboard. A final engine firing to send Endeavour on its way will occur about one hour after undocking.

1845 GMT (1:45 p.m. EST)

Endeavour's Orbiter Docking System has been powered up in preparation for the undocking less than a half-hour away. The ODS is the mechanism in the shuttle's payload bay that links Endeavour to the international space station. Mission specialist Joe Tanner is responsible for overseeing the ODS today.

1810 GMT (1:10 p.m. EST)

Clocks are counting down in Mission Control and aboard space shuttle Endeavour for the upcoming undocking from the international space station is just over an hour from now. The two craft will be flying above the Kazakh-Chinese boarder.

The international space station's newly-installed P6 solar arrays have been turned to an edge-on position relative to Endeavour via commands sent from Mission Control. The arrays on the Russian Zarya and Zvezda modules will be feathered a little later. The positioning is done to ensure the jet thruster plumes from the shuttle don't damage the delicate arrays.

See a timeline of today's docking.

1749 GMT (12:49 p.m. EST)

We have posted video of the two crews' farewells in the Unity module.

1712 GMT (12:12 p.m. EST)

Flight controllers expect no live television coverage during Endeavour's flyaround of the International Space Station due to antenna blockage, however still video images should be available. The crew is expected to replay the video of the undocking and flyby at round 2035 GMT (3:35 p.m. EST).

1553 GMT (10:53 a.m. EST)

The hatches between the shuttle and station are now closed.

Here are the exchanges between the shuttle and station crews as they prepared to depart:

JETT: Houston, the STS-97 and Alpha crews are reporting that all 4A assembly activities are complete and all joint activities are complete and the STS-97 crew is departing Alpha.

LUCID: And Houston copies, thank you.

SHEPHERD: Houston, space station Alpha would like to thank Endeavour's crew and the international team on the ground for bringing us a great new capability onboard station Alpha. Job well done.

JETT: And Captain Shepherd the STS-97 crew requests permission to depart Alpha.

SHEP: Permission granted. Permission granted. (Sings) Endeavour departing.

1543 GMT (10:43 a.m. EST)

The Endeavour astronauts have bid farewell to the three-man Alpha crew. In keeping with the mission's naval theme they requested permission to depart and their leaving was marked by the ringing of the "ship's bell". Work is now underway to close the hatches between the two craft.

1215 GMT (07:15 a.m. EST)

The Endeavour astronauts were awakened at 7:06 a.m. EST (1206 GMT) to prepare for undocking this afternoon from the international space station. The station's three-man crew - commander William Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev - was awakened several hours earlier to finish packing up equipment and trash for transfer to the shuttle and return to Earth.

The final hatch between the shuttle and the PMA-3 docking port on the Unity module is scheduled to be closed at 10:51 a.m. Undocking is on tap at 2:13 p.m.

With pilot Michael Bloomfield at the controls, Endeavour will drop straight down from the station to a point about 450 feet below. Bloomfield then will guide the orbiter through a loop up in front of the lab complex, directly overhead and on a point directly below for a detailed photo survey.

"We're looking forward to seeing the station from the outside," Bloomfield radioed after wakeup today. "We've had a wonderful day visiting with Shep and the rest of the Alpha crew."

See our undocking timeline for additional details.

The maneuver originally was planned, in part, to photograph the station using a wide-format IMAX camera mounted in Endeavour's cargo bay. But the IMAX failed earlier in the mission and will not be used today. Instead, the crew will use the usual assortment of cockpit still and video cameras to photograph the station and its new P6 solar arrays.

A final separation burn is planned for 3:16 p.m. to move the shuttle away for good. At 8:12 p.m., an orbit adjust rocket firing will be performed to set up a landing opportunity at 6:04 p.m. Monday at the Kennedy Space Center. Otherwise, the shuttle crew will take the evening off and go to bed at 11:06 p.m.

Read our earlier status center coverage.

Landing tracks
See the path Endeavour will follow during its trek home today in our STS-97 Landing Tracker.

KSC Orbit 170 - touchdown in Florida at 2304 GMT.


Snapshots
Departure:
Station from below
Station with Earth
Station from above
Down the hatch
Crews say goodbye

Coming aboard:
The two crews in Unity
Room with a view
A look into Zvezda

Third spacewalk:
Tree tops power tower
Spectacular view!
Floating potential probe
Location of the probe
Spacewalkers watch array
View from "helmetcam"
Astronauts climb into place
Astronauts' workplace

Earlier pictures:
Deploying the first wing
1st solar wing extended
Slack tension wires
Radiator deployed
Station's new look


Shuttle calendar
Shuttle calendarIn this 2001 calendar, John Sexton turns the space shuttle into an art form with his unique black and white photographs of the hardware.

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Status summary
The Expedition One mission to the space station is being extended two weeks due to delays in launching the space shuttle to bring the three men home. Read story.

Endeavour landed at Kennedy Space Center right on time Monday at 6:03:25 p.m. EST (2303:25 GMT).


Recent updates

SUNDAY
09:40 AM
Orbit ops snapshot

Satellite tracking elements


WEDNESDAY
07:15 AM
STS-98 Quick-Look Data


Ride a rocket!
DeltaA 50-minute VHS video cassette from Spaceflight Now features spectacular "rocketcam" footage from April's launch of NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey probe. Available from the Astronomy Now Store in NTSC format (North America and Japan) and PAL (UK, most of Europe, Australia and other countries).

At a Glance
Mission 1: ISS-2R
Vehicle: Soyuz
Crew: Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev
Launch date: Oct. 31, 2000
Launch time: 0753 GMT (2:53 a.m. EST)
Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Return vehicle: Shuttle Discovery (STS-102)
Landing date: March 11, 2001
Landing site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Mission 2: ISS-4A (STS-97)
Vehicle: Shuttle Endeavour
Crew: Jett, Bloomfield, Tanner, Garneau, Noriega
Launch date: Nov. 30, 2000
Launch time: 10:06 p.m. EST (0306 GMT on 1st)
Launch site: LC-39B, KSC
Landing date: Dec. 11, 2000
Landing time: 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT)
Landing site: SLF, KSC

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Baseball caps
NEW! The NASA "Meatball" logo appears on a series of stylish baseball caps available now from the Astronomy Now Store.
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Hubble Posters
Stunning posters featuring images from the Hubble Space Telescope and world-renowned astrophotographer David Malin are now available from the Astronomy Now Store.
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Station Calendar
NEW! This beautiful 12" by 12" wall calendar features stunning images of the International Space Station and of the people, equipment, and space craft associated with it, as it takes shape day by day in orbit high above the Earth.
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The Infinite Journey
Infinite JourneyThe triumphs and tragedies of the space program are recalled by those who were there in this glossy 240-page book from the Discovery Channel.

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