Video: Endeavour leaves space station

  1. Closed captioning of: Endeavour leaves space station

    >>> shuttle "endeavour" is heading home from its final mission . it undocked from the international space station just before midnight last night. gently pushing away. it was 215 miles above bolivia at that time. nbc news veteran space correspondent jay barber joins us live from florida. "endeavour" is due to land in florida very early wednesday morning. so what's the countdown looking like now for the official touchdown?

    >> it looks great. weather is looking fine. and it should be in 26 hours and 40 minutes from now, as you say, touching down about 2:35 a.m . eastern time wednesday morning. it will be the last flight, of course, for "endeavour." but as it touches down, the shuttle "atlantis" will be rolling to the launchpad. it is to lift off july 8th on a 12-day mission with a crew of four that will be taking up all of the cargo it possibly can to keep the international space station running for more than a year. they're going to have to use an unmanned aircraft to get the supplies up there, but they'll be entering another space race , if you will, this time commercial companies like space x and boeing who will be getting spacecraft and rockets ready to try to get astronauts back to the space station . but for the next three, four, five years, american astronauts will be riding aboard the soyuz, the russian spacecraft, to and from the space station .

    >> and, jay, i want to pass along to everybody, as we understand it, commander mark kelly 's wife congresswoman gabby giffords is not going to be attending the return home because of the hour it a little too early in the morning there. she was there for the liftoff at cape canaveral .

    >> she sure was, thomas. and the reason is they might have to wave off weather and all, you know.

    >> exactly. yeah. it makes it a little sketchy that time of day . jay, thanks so much.

updated 5/30/2011 7:57:46 PM ET 2011-05-30T23:57:46

The astronauts on the space shuttle Endeavour woke up this evening to a song that was written specially for the crew who are flying the orbiter on its final mission.

A NASA contest sought original song entries to awaken the astronauts during Endeavour's STS-134 flight. The competition received 1,350 submissions, and NASA selected 10 songs as finalists before opening it up to six weeks of public voting. [ The Astronaut's Playlist: Groovy Songs for Space Travelers ]

"More than 1.5 million votes were cast to determine the first and second place songs," NASA officials said.

The second place winner, "Dreams You Give" by Brian Plunkett from Halfway, Mo., earned 612,959 votes, or 38.8 percent. Plunkett's song was played at 6:57 p.m. EDT (2257 GMT) Monday to wake up Endeavour's six-astronaut crew.

"We're looking forward to another busy day and hopefully getting home tomorrow," Endeavour's commander Mark Kelly said after being woken with the tune. "That song was the second place winner in the wakeup music contest. Congratulations to Brian Plunkett from Halfway, Mo."

The first place winner, "Sunrise Number 1" by Jorge Otero and the band Stormy Mondays from Oviedo, Spain, will be played at 5:56 p.m. EDT (2156 GMT) on Tuesday, the day before the astronauts return to Earth.

The winning song received 787,725 votes, or 49.8 percent of the total ballots cast. Public voting for the contest ran from March 29 through May 16.

Kelly, pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialists Mike Fincke, Andrew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and Roberto Vittori are on the last leg of their 16-day mission. The astronauts are scheduled to land at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:35 a.m. EDT (0635 GMT) on Wednesday, June 1.

Endeavour launched on its final flight to the International Space Station on May 16. The orbiter delivered a $2 billion astrophysics experiment and extra supplies to the station to help posture the orbiting outpost for the years following the end of the shuttle program. Endeavour's crew conducted four spacewalks to upgrade the massive complex in space.

After this flight, NASA will launch only one more space shuttle mission. The shuttle Atlantis will lift off July 8 to wrap up the 30-year space shuttle program.

You can follow Staff Writer Denise Chow on Twitter@denisechow. Visit for complete coverage ofEndeavour's final mission STS-134or follow us@Spacedotcom and onFacebook.

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