Shuttle departs space station after successful service call
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
Posted: May 27, 2000
"And I guarantee you over the next few years we will stumble and scrape our knees a few times and I wouldn't be human if I didn't admit to some concern about that," he said. "But we have great confidence we can do this safely, we're not going to hurt people and we don't believe we're going to do damage to the hardware. We're just going to occasionally stub our toes and have to take a step backward and address those problems."
Atlantis undocked from the space station at 7:03 p.m. EDT (2303 GMT) on Friday evening. After looping around below the lab complex, pilot Scott Horowitz fired the shuttle's maneuvering jets to leave the station behine, setting the stage for a major milestone in July: Arrival of a new Russian command center called the service module.
"This mission was so successful because the two vehicles performed so well and the teams the planned, designed and trained and then executed the mission performed so well," said Jeff Bantle, a mission operations representative at the Johnson Space Center.
The service module, which will take over propulsion chores from Zarya while providing crew quarters and additional electrical power, is scheduled for launch atop a Proton rocket around July 12. Once in space, the service module will serve as a target for the Zarya module, which will carry out a remotely controlled rendezvous and docking using a Russian-built guidance system. Over the next few days, Russian flight controllers plan to put the docking system through a series of tests to verify its readiness for the main event. The system has generated suspect data on one channel in recent weeks and engineers want to make sure they fully understand its performance before the service module's launch.
"We're wrapping up the docked portion of an absolutely outstanding mission," van Laak said. "All of our mission objectives have been accommplished, we've left the space station in fantastic mechanical condition, ready to proceed to the docking of the service module in July. All the maintenance items have been done, the air quality problems we might have had on the last mission have been absolutely corrected and there are no concerns whatever about this crew or any other crew visiting the station. Basically we're ready to go and very, very pleased."
About the author
William Harwood has covered the U.S. space program for more than a decade. He is a consultant for CBS News and writes The Washington Post and Space News. He maintains a space website for CBS News.
Atlantis astronaut Jim Voss gives a guided tour through the International Space Station.
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Atlantis astronauts replace a faulty battery and associated electronics in the floor of station's Zarya module.
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The Russian Strela cargo boom is assembled and attached to the International Space Station by spacewalking astronauts.
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Space shuttle Atlantis blasts off at sunrise on May 19 on a 10-day repair mission to the International Space Station.
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