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Shuttle Endeavour to Undock from ISS Friday


Astronauts from the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour have said their farewells to the crew of the International Space Station, after more than a week on the orbiting outpost.

The hatches between the shuttle and the space station were closed early Friday, ahead of Endeavour's departure Friday night.

Earlier, the combined crews celebrated the latest addition to the space station with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, dedicating the Tranquility observation deck and its observation dome. The U.S. space agency NASA says the crews left a moon rock that was carried to the summit of Mount Everest by a former astronaut.

Tranquility and the dome were installed during the current shuttle mission.

The dome is 1.5 meters tall and 3 meters across. It features six trapezoid-shaped windows around one circular center window.

Space station commander Jeffrey Williams described the panoramic view from the $27 million observatory as "absolutely incredible." NASA says the Italian-built structure will allow station personnel to monitor future spacewalks.

Endeavour is scheduled to land Sunday night at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Four more shuttle missions to the International Space Station are planned before the end of this year when the U.S. shuttle fleet will be retired.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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