(AP) -- They've spent the past one-and-a-half weeks together in space, and now it's time for two teams of astronauts to say goodbye.
The hatches between the linked shuttle Endeavour and international space station will be sealed late Tuesday morning. Then early in the afternoon, Endeavour will pull away and its seven astronauts will begin preparing for a landing on Friday.
Among those headed home is Japanese spaceman Koichi Wakata, who's been in orbit since March. NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra replaced him aboard the space station.
The Endeavour crew is leaving after delivering and installing a new porch and experiments for Japan's lab, and giving the space station some fresh batteries. The orbiting outpost is now 83 percent complete.
©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Explore further: SpaceX to test 'eject-button' for astronauts