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Astronauts Enjoy Time Off After Successfully Repairing Solar Panel

Astronauts aboard the shuttle Discovery and the international space station reveled Sunday in their successful solar wing repair, and prepared to close the hatches between their linked spacecraft and part ways.

Crew members were transferring supplies and equipment between Discovery and the station Sunday morning and then planned to some enjoy time off.

They earned it after Saturday's history-making spacewalk.

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Astronaut Scott Parazynski performed emergency surgery on the wing as it coursed with more than 100 volts of electricity. He did it while perched at the end of a 90-foot robotic arm and boom extension, farther from the safety of the station than any spacewalker had ever been.

The repairs allowed the crew to unfurl the wing to its full 115-foot length, making it possible for NASA to move ahead with plans to expand the station in the coming months.

"This one will go down as one of our biggest successes in (spacewalking) history," flight controllers told the crew in morning briefing documents. "Words can not express how proud you made everyone with the execution by the entire team."

The spacewalk — the fourth for Discovery's space station visit — wrapped up station construction work for the seven shuttle astronauts.

The crews planned to close the hatches on Sunday afternoon, and the shuttle is set to pull away Monday. Discovery is scheduled to land on Wednesday.

Astronaut Clayton Anderson, who has lived on the space station since June, was spending his last day there. He thanked flight controllers, other NASA workers and his wife, Susan.

"Part of me is ready to go and part of me wants to stay," he said.

The space station's three occupants have a lot of work to do after Discovery leaves.

They need to move the pressurized compartment that was delivered and installed by the Discovery crew — and conduct three spacewalks — before the planned December launch of shuttle Atlantis carrying the first of two new laboratories.

NASA still has to figure out what to do about a malfunctioning rotary joint that turns another set of the station's solar power wings toward the sun. Last weekend, a spacewalker found steel shavings inside the joint, apparently the result of grinding parts.

Discovery's crew will bring samples of those shavings back to Earth to help pinpoint the source of the trouble.