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Discovery is leaving the space station tonight

 At the time this news is published, Wednesday at 01:09 a.m., the space shuttle Discovery is leaving the International Space Station for the end of mission STS-116

At 21:42 Israel time, the hatch that connected last week between the space shuttle Discovery on flight STS-116 and the International Space Station was closed, in preparation for the expected departure at 01:09.

 Both crews performed leak tests before leaving the Discovery. After that, shuttle pilot Bill performed an offline maneuver in which he rotated the shuttle partially around the space station before firing up the engines for the return home. Discovery is scheduled to land on Friday at 15:56 EST (22:56 Israel time) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

STS-116 thus marks an eight-day stay on the station. The team continued the construction of the station when they added the P5 component in the first of four spacewalks. The next two spacewalks were dedicated to renewing the station's power system and transferring it to the final configuration. A fourth spacewalk was added to allow the crews to fold one of the station's old solar collectors that didn't close properly in the autopilot. Discovery brought a new crew member to the station and two tons of equipment and supplies. Almost two tons of equipment not needed on the station will be returned to Earth in the shuttle.

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