BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Monday, 19 March, 2001, 04:55 GMT
Discovery leaves space station
Yuri Gidzenko, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Usachev AFP
Usachev (right) is taking over from Russian colleagues Gidzenko and Krikalev
The US space shuttle Discovery has undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) after completing its mission to deliver a relief crew and new equipment and supplies.

The shuttle had been docked to the ISS for a week, and is due back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.

Before leaving the ISS after 18 weeks on duty, departing astronaut Bill Shepherd formally handed over command of the orbiting platform to his Russian successor, Yuri Usachev.

"Sail her well," Shepherd said. "I am ready to be relieved."

Commander Shepherd had been on board the ISS since 2 November, with Russian crewmates Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev.

Behind schedule

Now, two Americans - Jim Voss and Susan Helms - will fly under Commander Usachev on a tour of duty that will last from four to six months. Collectively, the new ISS crew will be known as Expedition Two.

Leonardo module AFP
The Leonardo module's separation from the ISS was delayed
In preparation for the return flight to Earth, the Italian-built Leonardo logistics module was put back inside Discovery early on Sunday. The module had been temporarily attached to the ISS while five tonnes of equipment inside it were unloaded on to the platform.

However, a series of problems meant that the crew were running five hours behind schedule by the time Leonardo began separating from the space station.

The process of returning Leonardo to the shuttle was delayed in part by a hose leaking in a small compartment between the 21-foot module and the ISS.

Software problems

That slowed down a depressurisation procedure that had to be carried out before the module was unbolted using computer commands.

Susan Helms AFP
Susan Helms is part of the new crew
Discovery astronaut Andrew Thomas then used the shuttle's robotic arm to detach Leonardo and return it to the orbiter.

The crew earlier spent several hours testing software on two of the shuttle's computers that had been turned on too quickly.

This is not the first time the astronauts have suffered delays. An extra day has already been added to the mission because of difficulties experienced in filling Leonardo with rubbish and used station equipment.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

15 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Space station dodges floating debris
14 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Space station crews change over
11 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Astronauts make shuttle history
10 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Discovery docks with space station
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories