Shuttle Discovery leaves space station


Associated Press

SPACE CENTER, Houston – Space shuttle Discovery and its astronauts left the international space station today after a weeklong mission to add new sections and prepare for the arrival of the first full-time crew.

Pilot Pamela Melroy eased the shuttle away from the station as the spacecraft soared 240 miles above Brazil.

Discovery’s departure was delayed by 90 minutes – one orbit – when the astronauts fell a little behind Thursday in their work inside the space station. They sealed the hatches between the shuttle and station this morning, and then departed.

Discovery is due to return to Earth on Sunday.

The shuttle was docked seven days to the space station. The crew spent four of those days doing construction work outside, in four challenging spacewalks.

On Thursday, the crew transferred a few supplies and wiped down the station’s walls with a fungicide to prevent mold and mildew. They also tested four motion-control gyroscopes they installed earlier in the mission, with help from Mission Control.

The massive gyroscopes, used to aim the station, were spun briefly at 100 revolutions per minute, well below the 6,600 rpm that will be required for operations early next year. They worked as expected, NASA said.

The gyroscopes are part of an aluminum framework, or truss, installed by the crew. They also put a new docking port into place.

Commander Brian Duffy said his crew worked hard to make sure everything is ready for the station’s first residents. “I think they’re really going to be happy to get here,” he said.

If everything goes according to plan, Discovery’s seven astronauts will be the last visitors to the station until its first permanent resident crew arrives early next month. Astronaut Bill Shepherd and two cosmonauts are scheduled to blast off Oct. 31 from Kazakstan aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Though the station’s systems were in good shape, one very critical shuttle system failed briefly Thursday.

The solid-waste compactor on the shuttle toilet jammed, and Melroy and Jeff Wisoff were pressed into duty as plumbers. Proving that being an astronaut isn’t always glamorous, the pair put on long gloves and unclogged the line.

“Jeff is more of a hero than I think most people will appreciate,” Melroy said.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

2 suffer life-threatening injuries in Edmonds house fire

A man and a woman were rushed to Harborview. A massive response around 6 p.m. blocked streets near 224th Street SW and 72nd Place W.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Marvin Arellano (Photo provided)
Family: ‘Manic episode’ preceded trooper shooting man on I-5 near Everett

“It’s very, very unfortunate how he was portrayed in his final moments,” Gilbert Arellano said. “He was just such a good person.”

Two visitors comb the beach at Kayak Point Regional County Park on Friday, June 14, 2024, in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kayak Point reopens ahead of schedule

The county’s most popular park reopened Friday.

Grauates throw their caps in the air at the end of Arlington High School graduation at Angel of the Winds Arena on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘So worth it’: Snohomish County graduates step into their futures

Alyssa Acosta, who is Harvard-bound, was one of thousands to walk the stage at Angel of the Winds Arena this month to get high school diplomas.

FILE — Jet fuselages at Boeing’s fabrication site in Everett, Wash., Sept. 28, 2022. Some recently manufactured Boeing and Airbus jets have components made from titanium that was sold using fake documentation verifying the material’s authenticity, according to a supplier for the plane makers. (Jovelle Tamayo/The New York Times)
FAA investigating counterfeit titanium in Boeing and Airbus jets

The material, purchased from a little-known Chinese company, was sold with falsified documents and used in parts that went into jets.

Steamboat Geyser erupts in Yellowstone National Park on September 17, 2018. (Photo by Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service)
Lynnwood man sentenced for trespassing in Yellowstone National Park

Viktor Pyshniuk, 21, trespassed in April to take a photo of Yellowstone’s most dangerous geyser, according to the park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.