On Saturday, 6 August space shuttle Discovery unhitched from the orbital outpost its astronauts called home for nine days, readying itself for the long, dangerous journey back to Earth.
There were hugs and handshakes as Discovery's astronauts said their goodbyes to the astronaut and cosmonaut who live aboard the international space station. The crews then closed the hatches between the ship and orbiting lab.
Discovery's astronauts are scheduled to complete their 13-day mission Monday when the first shuttle to return to space since the 2003 Columbia tragedy is set to land in Florida, reported AP.
Discovery's seven astronauts spent a day longer than originally planned aboard the station to bring over additional supplies - such as paper, laptop computers and surplus food and batteries. Discovery is the first shuttle to visit the station since 2002. Since the Columbia tragedy, unmanned Russian cargo ships have carried supplies to the station, where two-person crews rotate every six months using Russian Soyuz rockets. The rockets don't have near the capacity of the shuttle, which is needed to complete construction of the station, reported Boston.com