CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - After nearly a week together, the crews of shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station said goodbye yesterday and closed the hatches between them.
Atlantis will undock from the space station before dawn today.
Astronaut Nicole Stott, leaving the station after three months, called for a “group hug’’ with her five former roommates. Then she embraced each one separately and, folding up her arms and legs, was pushed all the way into the shuttle like a big package. “Gentle,’’ she urged, floating through the hatch.
The men - six on the shuttle and five on the station - parted company with handshakes. “Good luck’’ and “nice trip to the ground, guys’’ filled the airwaves.
Like Stott, NASA’s new dad in space, Randolph Bresnik, was eager to get home. Touchdown is set for Friday.
Bresnik said yesterday that he had no problems focusing on his job in orbit while awaiting his daughter’s birth.
Abigail Mae Bresnik was born late Saturday, just hours after his first spacewalk.
“Fortunately, I’ve got a little over 20 years of good Marine Corps training on compartmentalizing,’’ Bresnik said during a crew news conference.
“We’ve been training long and hard for this mission. We know that the baby’s been coming, so it was easy to go ahead and do our tasks,’’ he said.
Bresnik said he wants to see his family as soon as possible after Atlantis lands. Wife Rebecca was figuring on waiting for him back home in Houston.