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Atlantis undocks from ISS; Sunita to return to earth
Seema Hakhu Kachru in Houston | June 19, 2007 21:03 IST
Space shuttle [Images] Atlantis undocked on Tuesday from the International Space Station [Images], setting the stage for return of Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams, who created a record for the longest stay by a woman in space.
Overcoming a computer-meltdown and repairing the heat shield of the shuttle, Atlantis undocked from the space station at 2010 IST carrying onboard six astronauts besides Williams.
Atlantis might have stayed an extra day if engineers had not been happy with a test to see how well the Russian computers that crashed last week can control the orbiting outpost's orientation.
The shuttle and space station crew said their farewells on Monday, before closing the hatches between the two spacecraft in preparation for departure.
Atlantis will remain in orbit for a day before landing at the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida [Images] on Thursday.
"Have a good, safe landing. Until we see you again," station commander Fyodor Yurchikhin said before the hatches were closed.
Williams had set a new space endurance record for female astronauts last Saturday, moving past the 188-day four-hour record set by Shannon Lucid during a stay aboard the old Mir space station.