'Star Trek' theme as Discovery leaves ISS

March 7, 2011 at 3:00 AM
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., March 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. space shuttle Discovery astronauts readied to undock from the International Space Station Monday as they wrapped up Discovery's 13th and final flight.

They were to wake up at 3:23 a.m. EST to the "Theme From 'Star Trek,'" which in the 1960s TV series began with the now-famous "Space -- the final frontier" monologue recited by series star William Shatner over an opening fanfare.

The song -- punctuated at several points by the fictional USS Enterprise flying toward and past the camera with a "whoosh" sound -- received the second most public votes from a Top 40 list in a NASA-sponsored song contest.

Discovery is to undock from the internationally developed space station research facility about 7 a.m.

Pilot Eric Boe is to pull Discovery away from the station until it's about 400 feet in front of the lab complex, then guide the shuttle through a 360-degree "victory lap" around the station for photographs before leaving for good about 8:43 a.m., NASA said.

After a final heat-shield inspection, the astronauts will pack up and test the shuttle's re-entry systems Tuesday.

It is expected to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., just before noon Wednesday, closing out its 39th and final mission.

The shuttle and station crews exchanged farewells before the hatch separating Discovery from the space station closed at 4:11 p.m. Sunday.

Discovery commander Steve Lindsey thanked station commander Scott Kelly on behalf of the six shuttle astronauts for the hospitality.

Kelly responded, "We're going to miss you, and we're going to miss space shuttle Discovery," which he called "a great ship" that supported the space station "more so, I think, than any other shuttle."

"We wish her fair winds and following seas," he said.

Discovery's crew delivered a 21,817-pound Permanent Multipurpose Module, nicknamed "Leonardo," to the space station. The module, now permanently docked to one of the station's ports, came loaded with supplies and equipment and will be used for storage of spares, supplies and waste, NASA said.

The crew also brought tons of equipment, experiment samples and a humanoid robot dubbed "Robonaut," as well as 853 pounds of water, 112 pounds of nitrogen and 182 pounds of oxygen.

Shuttle astronauts Alvin Drew and Stephen Bowen also carried out two successful spacewalks to complete critical maintenance chores outside the lab complex.

The crew will take back to Earth 2 1/2 tons of equipment and research samples it removed from the station.

NASA has two more shuttle launches set after Discovery. Endeavour -- whose crew includes Kelly's twin brother, astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was shot Jan. 8 -- and Atlantis. Endeavour is scheduled for liftoff April 19. Atlantis is scheduled for a June 28 launch.

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