Index

DATE=9/18/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SHUTTLE UNDOCKING (L) NUMBER=2-266706 BYLINE=DAVID MCALARY DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= INTERNET= VOICED AT: INTRO: The U-S space shuttle "Atlantis" and its seven astronauts and cosmonauts departed the International Space Station early Monday after six days of making it a home for future long-duration crews. V-O-A Science Correspondent David McAlary reports. TEXT: Pilot Scott Altman pulled Atlantis away from the station, as springs on the docking mechanism gently pushed the shuttle away. The U-S and Russian crew then flew around the outpost twice to take photographs to bring back to Earth for inspection by U-S and Russian engineers. In Moscow, Russian flight controllers maneuvered the station back to its normal orientation toward Earth. The Atlantis team backed out of the station Sunday, after six days there -- turning out lights and closing hatches behind them. They left the station nearly three-thousand kilograms heavier - by Earth measurements -- after stocking it with hardware and supplies the first long-duration crew will need to live and work for four months. That occupation is scheduled for November. The station now has food, water, medical and hygiene supplies and office and exercise equipment. The U-S space agency official in charge of international operations aboard the station -- Bob Cabana [kuh-BAA-nuh] -- says the Atlantis crewmembers also took on roles as cleaners, plumbers, electricians and cable installers, to set up the orbital research facility. /// CABANA ACTUALITY /// Well, this crew certainly has laid out the red carpet for the first crew to come aboard the International Space Station this year. I think they accomplished everything that we asked them to do; everything we wished they could do; and I think about everything we dreamed that they could do. /// END ACTUALITY /// Not only was the workload during this mission busy; but, so is the schedule of future U-S shuttle launches to the space station. There are seven more planned over the next 12 months -- the busiest timetable since 1985. With such a crowded calendar, U-S space agency officials have warned the public not to expect perfection on every mission needed to assemble the outpost. Mr. Cabana repeated the caution. /// CABANA ACTUALITY /// The pace of operations is going to pick up rapidly. I think we've spoiled folks with the extreme success that we've had lately on space shuttle missions. But I think we have to be prepared for not accomplishing everything in the future. When that happens, I think the team will come together and we'll be able to handle it down the road [in the future.] /// END ACTUALITY /// The next shuttle mission is scheduled to take off for the space station October fifth. The shuttle "Discovery" and its crew are to deliver a connecting tunnel for future modules and install an exterior truss that will support a large communications antenna, U-S solar panels and fuel-saving gyroscopes. Now that the shuttle Atlantis is finished at the station, it is due to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday [3:56 am EDT]. (SIGNED) NEB/DEM/WD 18-Sep-2000 04:07 AM LOC (18-Sep-2000 0807 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .