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NASA's last space shuttle crew almost done packing up

The International Space Station's crew and Atlantis' astronauts form a circle in zero-gravity for a portrait: Atlantis' crew consists of NASA astronauts Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim; the space station's crew members are Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, NASA astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum, and Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov. The U.S. flag pictured was flown on the first space shuttle mission and is being presented to the space station crew.
The International Space Station's crew and Atlantis' astronauts form a circle in zero-gravity for a portrait: Atlantis' crew consists of NASA astronauts Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim; the space station's crew members are Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, NASA astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum, and Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov. The U.S. flag pictured was flown on the first space shuttle mission and is being presented to the space station crew.AP via NASA
/ Source: The Associated Press

The astronauts making NASA's last shuttle flight are almost done packing up their gigantic suitcase for the ride home.

The 10 space travelers spent Sunday putting some final items in Raffaello, the Italian-made cargo canister that's the size of a bus.

"Keep going, you are almost done," encouraged Mission Control.

The compartment will be moved from the International Space Station back onto space shuttle Atlantis early Monday. It carried up tons of food, supplies and other household goods. And it will return with dozens of bundles of trash and discarded equipment.

Atlantis will undock from the space station Tuesday, after a visit of more than a week, and aim for a Thursday landing back in Florida to end 30 years of shuttle flight.

The four shuttle astronauts took some time off Sunday to relax before heading home.

In a departure from last week's string of celebrity greetings, Sunday's special message to the crew aboard Atlantis came from workers at NASA's Stennis Space Center near New Orleans. That's where the shuttle main engines were tested over the decades.

"It's time to fire up your engines — laissez les bons temps rouler!" the Stennis crowd shouted.

The wake-up music was Kool and the Gang's "Celebration," chosen by the shuttle crew before the flight.

Astronaut Sandra Magnus said the crew picked the song "to dedicate to the whole shuttle work force in celebration of everything that you've accomplished over the years."

NASA is retiring its three space shuttles, sending them to museums, so it can work on sending astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit. The goals set forth by the Obama administration: an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by the mid-2030s.