Shuttle, Station Crews Part After 11 Days Together

By: AP-US--Space Shuttle, 1st Ld-Writethru,0121
By: AP-US--Space Shuttle, 1st Ld-Writethru,0121

AP-US--Space Shuttle, 1st Ld-Writethru,0121
Shuttle, station crews part after 11 days together
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- The two teams of orbiting astronauts have said goodbye, after working together for 11 days to improve and expand the international space station.

Late Tuesday morning, Endeavour's seven astronauts exchanged hugs and handshakes with their six space station friends. Then the shuttle crew floated into their ship, and the hatches were closed.

Endeavour will undock early Tuesday afternoon, and its crew will begin preparing for a Friday landing. Coming home is Koichi Wakata, a Japanese astronaut who spent four-and-a-half months at the orbiting outpost.

The Endeavour crew is leaving behind a newly installed porch and experiments for Japan's lab, and fresh plugged-in batteries. The space station is now 83 percent complete.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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