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U.S. bids farewell to Mir, looks forward to new space station

SHARE U.S. bids farewell to Mir, looks forward to new space station

After one final farewell, space shuttle Discovery prepared to part company with Mir Monday, marking the end of America's three-year partnership with the Russian space station and the transition into a new era of spaceflight: the international space station.

In an emotional last gathering in the space station, Discovery's astronauts and Mir's cosmonauts exchanged handshakes and hugs before closing the hatches between the two space-craft."This is great, and the whole flight has been fantastic. We're looking forward to working with you again," shuttle commander Charles Precourt told his Mir counterpart, Talgat Musabayev.

In return, Musabayev presented Precourt with one last gift: a huge wrench that was used in spacewalks outside the Mir.

"We're going to need this for all the work that we have ahead of us, Talgat," Precourt said.

Discovery, completing NASA's ninth and last docking with Mir, was scheduled to pull away from the space station today and begin its trip back to Earth after four days of linked flight.