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Astronauts heading home

The astronauts aboard the orbiting shuttle and station complex shook hands and hugged goodbye Tuesday as the doors swung shut between their spacecraft on the eve of undocking.

Gregory Chamitoff, the international space station's newest resident, said he was sad to see his friends go, “but I'm looking forward to the adventure ahead.”

As for Garrett Reisman, headed home after three months in orbit, it was a satisfying moment. He hugged Chamitoff twice before floating into shuttle Discovery for the ride back to Earth. He also had bear hugs for the two Russians he was leaving behind.

Reisman noted that his performance wasn't perfect “but I managed not to break anything really expensive.”

He's in hot water, though, with his wife.

When asked Monday what he was looking forward to most on Earth, Reisman summed it up in two words: Simone Francis.

“She was furious with me for embarrassing her like that,” he said with a laugh Tuesday.

Discovery is scheduled to pull away from the space station this morning, ending a nine-day visit that was highlighted by the installation of a new Japanese lab. The shuttle and its crew of seven are due back on Earth on Saturday.

Reisman, 40, a mechanical engineer, moved into the space station in March and was replaced by Chamitoff, 45, an aeronautics researcher who flew up on Discovery for a six-month stay.

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