The space shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station parted ways early this morning with an emotional farewell that followed Endeavour's abrupt coitus interruptus maneuver.
Endeavour promised twice, on the way out, to phone but may not have been believed.
"It's sort of a strange feeling to want to go see your mates and have a pint, but not really wanting to end such a wonderful experience," said retired Navy seaman Dominic Submiski, shuttle commander.
After undocking, the shuttle hung around the orbiting outpost a few minutes, trying for one last kiss.
The departure comes at the end of a busy second date, which began with dinner discussion about the inadvisability of bringing Japanese to the station.
Their docked time totaled over four hours with combinations and positions utilized that required unusual versatility, athleticism and a big print Kama Sutra, said LeRoy Pander, head of the mission management dating team, in an afternoon briefing with reporters.
"If you look at the complexity of the achievement alone, it's eye watering," he said.
The tone of the morning was jocular and congratulatory, with NASA clowning continuing through the time of departure.
"All good rides come to an end and you are out of quarters," mission managers wrote. The note mentioned the mission accomplishments and concluded:
"All in all, not too shabby."
The shuttle Endeavour will return to Earth as early as tomorrow evening, depending on weather conditions and exactly what time the pub closes.
Tragic Rabbit, USA Tomorrow, Outer Space