December 16, 2011
ISS018-E-040792 (17 March 2009) --- Backdropped by a blanket of clouds, Space Shuttle Discovery is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 18 crewmember on the International Space Station during rendezvous and docking operations. Before docking with the station, astronaut Lee Archambault, STS-119 commander, flew the shuttle through a Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver or basically a backflip to allow the space station crew a good view of Discovery's heat shield. Using digital still cameras equipped with both 400 and 800 millimeter lenses, the ISS crewmembers took a number of photos of the shuttle's thermal protection system and sent them down to teams on the ground for analysis. A 400 millimeter lens was used for this image. Docking occurred at 4:20 p.m. (CDT) on March 17, 2009. The final pair of power-generating solar array wings and the S6 truss segment are visible in Discovery's cargo bay.
Topics: Manned spacecraft, Spaceflight, Space Shuttle program, Environment, Rendezvous pitch maneuver, Space rendezvous, Space Shuttle thermal protection system, Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-116, STS-119, STS-121, Space Shuttle, International Space Station