Technology & Science

Endeavour undocks from space station

Two Canadian astronauts said their goodbyes aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday, with Julie Payette returning to the Earth-bound space shuttle and Robert Thirsk continuing his stay aboard the orbiting outpost.

Two Canadian astronauts said their goodbyes aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday, with Julie Payette returning to the Earth-bound space shuttle and Robert Thirsk continuing his stay aboard the orbiting outpost.

The space shuttle Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station at 1:26 p.m. ET and began a final fly-around of the station before heading on course for a Friday landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Endeavour arrived at the space station a week and a half ago on a mission to install a porch-like structure used to conduct experiments exposed to the harsh conditions of outer space — the third major component to Japan's Kibo laboratory.

The shuttle also delivered U.S. astronaut Tim Kopra, the newest crew member to the six-person space station team. He replaces Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, who had been aboard the station since March and is on board Endeavour as it departs the station.

The shuttle mission was a first for Canada, as the arrival of Montreal-born Payette marked the first time two Canadians worked together in space.

Thirsk, from New Westminster, B.C., travelled to the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, which lifted off from a launch pad in Kazakhstan on May 27. He is living on the station for six months, the first Canadian to stay aboard the station for an extended period of time.

The mission was also the first time 13 astronauts worked together on a mission, the largest-ever gathering of people in space.