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Shuttle undocks from space station after 8 days

world Updated: Mar 26, 2009 13:16 IST

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After eight days together, space shuttle Discovery pulled away from the international space station, ending a successful effort to boost electrical power and science research at the orbiting outpost.

The two spacecraft went separate ways on Wednesday as they soared above the Indian Ocean. The undocking puts Discovery and its seven-member crew on course for a Saturday touchdown.

"Godspeed," called out the space station's skipper, Mike Fincke. He added: "Come again."

NASA was eager to see the space station with its new glistening pair of solar wings following Discovery's departure. The shuttle took a victory lap around the station, primarily for picture-taking. But because there was no television availability during the flyaround, Mission Control and the rest of the world had to wait for the astronauts to beam down the recorded video views.

With the installation last week of the final set of solar wings, the space station finally resembles the artist renderings from years past, balanced with four wings on both sides.

NASA expects the extra electrical power to drastically increase the amount of research in the various labs that make up the 220-mile (350-kilometer)-high outpost.