Feeds

Endeavour bids adios to ISS

Undocks ahead of final homecoming

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Space shuttle Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station at 03:55 GMT this morning, marking its last departure from the orbiting outpost ahead of its return to terra firma on Wednesday.

Endeavour seen from the ISS shortly after undocking. Pic: NASA TVBefore waving a final goodbye, the venerable vehicle had a couple of last duties to perform on its swansong STS-134 mission.

After a fly around to allow crew to take detailed photos of the ISS's structure, Endeavour crept to within roughly 950ft of the station to put the Sensor Test for Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation (STORRM) system through its paces.

NASA explains this is "an automated docking system that uses a vision navigation sensor flash lidar and high definition docking camera" which "operates very much like a stop sign reflecting headlights".

The agency elaborates: "On the docking port of the space station are specialized retro-reflectors - which are made from material similar to that used on stop signs - that bounce light back with minimal scattering. The lidar targets the retro-reflectors to calculate the range and line-of-sight angle measurements that the system then provides to the relative navigation software."

The job done, Endeavour then fired its engines to gradually fall behind the ISS.

The STS-134 mission's primary goal was delivery of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, the $2bn piece of kit designed to "advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe's origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays".

During 11 days of joint docked operations, Endeavour mission specialists Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and Michael Fincke carried out four spacewalks, during which they completed several maintenance tasks and stowed Endeavour's 50ft inspection boom on the ISS to act as an extension to the station's robotic arm.

Once it's back on the ground, Endeavour will be prepared for display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The last scheduled shuttle launch is Atlantis's STS-135, slated to blast off on 8 July. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.