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Two space crews mark a week together in orbit

Astronauts at the ISS. A NASA photo

CAPE CANAVERAL (AP): The 12 astronauts aboard the orbiting shuttle-space station complex shared a few more maintenance chores Saturday, taking out the trash and doing their part for clean air as their weeklong visit wound down.

The hatches between Discovery and the International Space Station will close Sunday afternoon, and the shuttle will undock first thing Monday.

Both crews worked to rejuvenate the space station's air system. The oxygen generator as well as the carbon dioxide removal system have been acting up.

They also made sure a Japanese cargo carrier was loaded properly with garbage.

The supply ship will be let loose at the end of this month and plunge through the atmosphere, burning up. The vessel is full of packing foam from all the equipment that was delivered by Discovery. The foam encasing the humanoid robot R2 will be stuffed in as well, once the astronauts unwrap it.

R2 is the first humanoid robot in space. It was part of the new stowage unit delivered last Saturday by shuttle Discovery.

Mission Control gave Discovery's six astronauts two extra days at the 220-mile (354-kilometer)-high lab, for a total of nine days, to help with all the unloading and repair work.

"Hope you are enjoying your extended stay in your out-of-this-world accommodations. The innkeeper says you can stay a couple more days if you behave," Mission Control joked.

It's the last voyage for Discovery, NASA's oldest and most traveled shuttle. The spaceship will be retired following Wednesday's planned touchdown and sent to the Smithsonian Institution for display.

Only two more shuttle missions remain. Endeavour is set to soar in mid-April, followed by Atlantis at the end of June.


ISS  Astronauts  

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