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Atlantis Crew Heads Home as Space Station Mission Ends

July 23, 2001|From Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Their mission accomplished despite some "bumps in the road," space shuttle Atlantis and its crew left the international space station on Sunday and set off for home.

Atlantis' five-member crew is due back at Kennedy Space Center early Tuesday, 12 days after lifting off on the construction flight. Space station Alpha's residents are due back in August after a five-month stay; another shuttle will bring their replacements.

During the eight days that the two spacecraft flew as one, the astronauts installed a $164-million passageway for spacewalkers and hooked up high-pressure gas tanks to it. Americans living aboard the space station now can conduct spacewalks in their own suits, rather than relying on Russian outfits and a tight Russian exit.

"We had a few minor hiccups along the way," shuttle commander Steven Lindsey said, adding that he was pleased overall. The hiccups included: air and water leaks, a balky valve, a screeching pump and a computer crash.

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