Monday, May 23, 2011

Expedition 27: The Voyage Home

TMA-20 Soyuz docked at the Rassvet module.

At 3:35 p.m. MDT the Last crew of Expedition 27 to the ISS undocked from the station, LEaving the Rassvet module in their SOyuz TMA-20 spacecraft, they backed away from the docking port at about 1/10 meter per second. When safely away from the station, they used thrusters to maneuver the craft to perform a special duty this time.

Backing away from the hatch.

This is the first time that a Soyuz undocked from the ISS while a shuttle was parked there, and this is Endeavour's last trip into space. Russian planners therefore agreed to have the departing Expedition 27 crew make a fly-around of the station and shuttle complex for a special photo shoot!

TMA-20 on left, Endeavour on right.

Once the craft was some 600 feet away, cosmonaut Paulo Nespoli then opened the interior hatch of the Soyuz to move into the cargo module to take the pictures and video. The station rotated about 130 degrees to give him the best views possible.

Undocking view from Soyuz.

Because of the nature of the camera equipment, the crew won't be able to transmit the images to Earth. They will have to wait until they get safely on the ground when engineers will rush to get the views on line and distributed to the agencies involved.

Passing through Endeavour's shadow.

The crew will perform a deorbit burn at about 9:36 EDT and head for home. Estimated arrival time is 10:26 p.m. in Kazakhstan.

Another view of the two spacecraft.

Soyuz Camera view of ISS in orbit. A rare view of a shuttle parked at the station.

TMA-20 reaches camera position. Soon it''s back to Earth for them.

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