Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station at 7:50 a.m. CDT, completing six days, two hours and two minutes of joint operations with the station crew. As the shuttle departs, a new station crew is preparing to launch to the complex tonight from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
Atlantis left the station with a new, second pair of 240-foot solar wings, attached to a new 17.5-ton section of truss with batteries, electronics and a giant rotating joint. The new solar arrays eventually will double the station's onboard power when their electrical systems are brought online during the next shuttle flight, planned for launch in December.
Atlantis is now aiming for a 4:57 a.m. CDT Wednesday landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Meanwhile, the station's Expedition 14 crew -- Commander and NASA Science Officer Michael Lopez-Alegria, Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin and spaceflight participant Anoushheh Ansari -- are set to launch in their Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft from Baikonur at 11:09 p.m. CDT. Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin will begin a six-month stay aboard the station when they dock to the complex on Wednesday. Ansari is visiting the station for eight days under a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency.
After undocking, Atlantis' crew -- Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Chris Ferguson and Mission Specialists Dan Burbank, Joe Tanner, Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve MacLean -- got a breath-taking view of the station as the shuttle circled the complex. During their stay at the station, the shuttle crew conducted three spacewalks in four days to prepare the new components for operation.
As Atlantis performed a full fly-around of the station, the shuttle crew took photographs and video of the complex's new T-shaped solar array configuration. The station's truss now stretches 179 feet.
In addition to the new truss section and its arrays, the astronauts transferred 800 pounds of hardware and 1,043 pounds of water to the station in exchange for 1,084 pounds of returning hardware. They also placed about 200 pounds of launch locks, restraints and other unneeded hardware on ISS Progress 21 for disposal.
The shuttle astronauts spent five days, 21 hours and 57 minutes with hatches open to the station working with the station's Expedition 13 crew -- Commander Pavel Vinogradov, and Flight Engineers Jeff Williams and Thomas Reiter. The hatches were shut for Atlantis' undoccking at 5:27 a.m. CDT. Vinogradov, Williams and Ansari will land in a Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan Sept. 29. Vinogradov and Williams have been in orbit since March.
On Monday, the shuttle crew will use the ship’s robotic arm to grapple the boom sensor system once more to conduct a final inspection of the heat shielding on Atlantis’ wings and nose cap. The additional late inspecting ensures the areas still are in good shape for entry into the atmosphere and landing.
Atlantis' crew begins their sleep period at 2:15 p.m. CDT and will awaken at 10:15 p.m. CDT.