Space Shuttle Discovery undocks from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV.
Discovery departed from the International Space Station on August 6, 2005 and glided off on its own in the first step toward the shuttle's risky return to Earth. In this photo, the International Space Station is seen with the earth as the background in this view from the payload bay cameras of space shuttle Discovery, operated by astronaut Soichi Noguchi of Japan, August 6, 2005. NASA TV/Reuters Photo by Nasa Tv/Reuters.
A television camera in the payload bay of the space shuttle Discovery, not pictured, shows a possible piece of debris lower left, bright trianglular shape, after the International space station undocked Saturday, Aug. 6, 2005. AP Photo/NASA TV.
The glare from the sun is reflected in this televised view of the International space station after the craft undocked from the space shuttle Discovery Saturday, Aug. 6, 2005. AP Photo/NASA TV.Astronauts take out trash
By Marcia Dunn
SPACE CENTER, Houston -- The space shuttle made a long overdue trash pickup at the international space station Friday -- the first one in 2-1/2 years.
The Discovery astronauts hoisted a giant garbage can holding 5,000 pounds of broken machines, discarded equipment, empty food cartons and other junk into the shuttle's cargo hold.
It was one of the last chores before the shuttle pulls away from the station after more than a week of linked flight, today.
The two space station occupants were glad to get rid of the stuff since it left them with a much tidier -- and more spacious -- home.
It was the first trash pickup by a shuttle since the end of 2002. The Columbia disaster in early 2003 prevented shuttles from returning to the space station until now, forcing the resident crews to rely on the much smaller and less frequent Russian supply ships for garbage disposal.