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Astronauts spend Thanksgiving in space

HOUSTON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The crew of the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour is back in the spacecraft, facing a Friday departure from the International Space Station, NASA said.

After a freeze-dried Thanksgiving dinner Thursday and a round of good-byes to their comrades aboard the space station, the hatches between the shuttle and the orbiting scientific research facility were closed at closed at 7:31 p.m. EST, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported. Undocking is scheduled for 9:47 a.m. Friday, with the final separation burn at 12:14 p.m.

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The STS-126 mission's main purpose was to bring new amenities, including a second toilet, a refrigeration system and a urine recycling machine, to the station and install them.

Three astronauts remain on the station as Expedition 18. The two groups held a brief ceremony before the hatches closed, Florida Today reported.

"You totally fixed us up on the inside and the outside, and the results speak for themselves," said Mike Fincke, the Expedition 18 commander.

Endeavour is to spend two days on the trip back to Earth. By the time they touch down, the seven astronauts will have been away for almost two weeks.

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