Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shuttle Atlantis Docks At Space Station

Shuttle Atlantis and six astronauts docked at the International Space Station today, winding up a two-day trip that began with a precisely-timed launch Monday from Kennedy Space Center.

Mission commander Charlie Hobaugh, a veteran combat and test pilot, eased Atlantis up to a berthing port on the U.S. Harmony module as the shuttle and the station flew 220 miles above Australia and Tasmania. The spaceship was creeping along at a seemingly glacial one-tenth of a mile per hour at the time.

"Houston, Atlantis. Capture confirmed," Hobaugh said.

The docking came one day, 21 hours and 23 minutes after launch from pad 39A here at KSC.

Hobaugh was controlling the shuttle from an aft flight deck work station.

Pilot Butch Wilmore used a handheld radar gun to keep track of the distance between the spacecraft as the Atlantis closed in on the station.

Hooks and latches on shuttle and station docking devices linked the spacecraft in a metallic embrace. Leak checks will be carried out in the next hour to make certain there is a tight seal between the spacecraft.

Coming up at 1:53 p.m.: Hatch opening and a welcome ceremony.

You can watch live here in The Flame Trench. Simply click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage. Be sure to refresh this page, too, for periodic updates.

Also coming up later today:
2:33: Shuttle robot arm lifts spare parts carrier.

3:13 p.m. Carrier handed off to station robot arm

4:23 p.m. Procedures review for spacewalk No. 1.

4:38 p.m.: Install carrier on station’s central truss.

6:53 p.m.: Spacewalkers Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher camp out in station’s U.S. Quest airlock.

7:58 p.m.: Station crew sleep.

8:28 p.m.: Shuttle crew sleep.

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