Endeavour Arrives At International Space Station
The space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station at 11:06 p.m. CST Tuesday, delivering the Tranquility module and its new room with a view, the cupola.
Endeavour Commander George Zamka guided the orbiter to a docking with Pressurized Mating Adapter 2 as the two spacecraft were flying 215 miles above Earth off the western coast of Portugal.
When the shuttle arrived within 600 feet of the station, Endeavour performed the nine-minute Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, or “back flip.” Zamka rotated the orbiter backwards, enabling space station Commander Jeffrey Williams and Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov to take high-resolution pictures of the shuttle. The images will be analyzed by experts on the ground to assess the health of Endeavour’s heat shield.
The shuttle and station crews opened hatches at 1:16 a.m. Wednesday as Endeavour and the outpost flew off the northwest coast of Australia. With the arrival of Endeavour’s six astronauts, the station’s population grows to 11 and its mass tops 1 million pounds.
Following a safety briefing by the host station crew, shuttle Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick and station Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer operated the station robotic arm to remove the Orbiter Boom Sensor System from Endeavour’s payload bay. Shuttle Pilot Terry Virts and Mission Specialist Kay Hire used the shuttle arm to accept the handoff.
Zamka transferred replacement parts for the station’s water recycling system so that Williams can replace them and reactivate the equipment that processes urine into drinking water for station crews. Mission Specialists Bob Behnken and Patrick moved the spacesuits they will wear during their three spacewalks into the station’s Quest airlock.
Endeavour’s crew will begin its sleep period at 7:14 a.m. and awaken at 3:14 p.m. Wednesday’s work will focus on supply transfers, spacewalk preparations and Water Recovery System repairs. Thursday’s work will focus on installation of the new Tranquility module onto the Unity module and the mission’s first spacewalk.
Image Caption: A view of space shuttle Endeavour as it approaches the International Space Station for docking. Image credit: NASA TV
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