The hatch closing wrapped up eight days of docked operations.
A demonstration of the station’s ability to maintain attitude control on its own, a checkout on the new Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ) and a smooth translation of the Mobile Transporter gave shuttle and station program managers the confidence needed to approve undocking tomorrow.
At 9:34 this morning, attitude control was handed over from the shuttle to the Russian segment’s terminal computer for a test of its ability to fire Russian thrusters and maintain station attitude. Ninety minutes later, at 11:09 a.m., control was handed back to U.S. computers and the control moment gyroscopes, which completed the demonstration.
The shuttle astronauts had the first part of the day off, before completing transfers between Atlantis and the station. On the station side of the hatches, Atlantis’ crew had left behind more than 19 tons of food, water and equipment. They also filled the shuttle’s middeck with equipment and experiment samples returning to Earth.
The most important transfer item to the shuttle was Astronaut Suni Williams who lived aboard the station for 189 days. Remaining aboard the station was Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson. Williams topped fellow Astronaut Shannon Lucid’s record of 188 days in space.
With the activation of SARJ, the station now has four U.S. solar array wings tracking the sun through each orbit of the Earth.