Astronauts bid farewell to space station, crew

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Discovery astronauts parked the Leonardo cargo module in the shuttle's payload bay Friday and carried out a final heat shield inspection to set the stage for undocking Saturday from the International Space Station.

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - It's almost check-out time for space shuttle Discovery.

    The seven shuttle astronauts and six station residents said goodbye and hugged one another Saturday morning. Then they closed the hatches between them in preparation for Discovery's undocking.

    Shuttle commander Alan Poindexter thanked his International Space Station friends for their "utmost hospitality." He said he hoped he and his crew didn't "tear up" their house too much. Station skipper Oleg Kotov said, "It's really, really sad" to see them go. But he noted: "It's time."

    Discovery and its crew spent one-and-a-half weeks at the International Space Station, outfitting it with a new ammonia tank and other supplies. The shuttle will return to Earth on Monday.